Starfleet Aerospace Corps
|Starfleet Aerospace Corps|
|Agency's Role:||Space Fighter Craft Command|
|Agency Headquarter Location:||Starfleet Headquarters, San Fransisco|
|Agency Head's Name:||Vacant|
|Agency Head Title:||Head of Aerospace Command|
|[ Source ]|
The Starfleet Aerospace Corps is a division of Starfleet dedicated to the training, outfitting and maintenance of the starfighter wings that serve to protect the porous borders of the Federation. Coming from all walks of life throughout the Federation, the pilots and personnel that make up Starfleet's Aerospace lay their lives on the line day by day in order to defend the freedoms of the Federation people.
Prior to the founding of the Federation and the incorporation of Starfleet in 2161, Aerospace Corps didn’t exist as a separate entity, but as the Provisional Starfighter Force – a sub-branch of the Military Assault Command Organization (MACO). It continued to exist as such even after MACO was dissolved and the Starfleet Marine Corps was established in 2170.
In 2218, the command as it is known today was established at Starbase 1 in Earth Orbit.
Forming virtually all of the command’s active fighter force during this early period was the Thunderbolt class Space Superiority Fighter. Introduced 9 months into the Earth-Romulan War (2155-2160), it was the most advanced craft in operation, designed and engineered with cutting edge materials and incorporating the absolute latest technologies. Mounting 3 Phase Cannons along with 2 photonic (later photon) missile launchers, they were some of Earth Starfleet’s most valuable assets.
At the inception of Aerospace Corps, some 657 of these craft were still in service—having been refit and upgraded with more powerful Laser-based weaponry. Due to the fact that Thunderbolts were not warp capable, considerable time, effort and resources were expended converting 10 surviving Victory class Dreadnoughts. These 550-meter long battlewagons were the largest ships operated by Earth Starfleet and the Federation Starfleet as well (until the introduction of the Midway class in 2287) and thus, were the only starships suitably large enough to serve as makeshift carriers—able to embark a full wing (72) of Thunderbolts.
In 2223, the command’s headquarters shifted to the newly established Saturn Flight Range, with the recommissioned carrier Roger Young and a contingent of Thunderbolts forming the 1st Training Wing. The focus during this early period was focused primarily on training and technique—the attention of the fleet overall focused more on the vaunted ‘Class I’ shipbuilding program. Continued Kzinti hostilities as well as concern over the potential for Klingon aggression prompted stronger and stronger calls by top Generals for replacements for both Victory and Thunderbolt. Their calls would remain unanswered for well over a decade, as the aforementioned shipbuilding program and the relative astro-political calm provided little incentive for progress.
Modernization finally reached the Corps in 2236. The Class I program, having borne the legendary Constitution, Saladin and Ptolemy classes, also gave rise to the Independence class Light Carrier that entered service early in that year. A unique design, based partially on Earth Starfleet’s NX class, that also ran heavily armed, Independence only had space to embark up to a fighter group (36 craft), but entering service along with it was a fighter type that would go on to become the principal type of the early 23rd Century. The D-17 class Attack Fighter was a quite radical reworking of the Class D Shuttlepod spaceframe. Ironically enough, that basic design predated both Victory and Thunderbolt but proved quite effective at the attack and intercept roles. It featured a pair of wingtip-mounted heavy laser cannons, a single photon missile launcher embedded on the underside of the fuselage and was the first fighter to include a deflector shield system as standard.
Klingon attacks at Caleb IV and Donatu V in 2239 and the Archanis IV Massacre in 2244 proved to be excellent, if bloody, tests for the Corps. Though theKlingon Defense Force fielded no fighters and their confrontations with Starfleet primarily involved starships, Starfleet’s ability to field both the Thunderbolt and D-17 gave them a decisive edge during the period where they & the KDF still maintained tactical parity. The Battle of Donatu V in particular, though ending in a stalemate, served as justification for continuing production of the now 84-year old fighter class.