The Royal Equestrian Space Forces regards ships smaller than cruiser-class to be “escorts” for larger ships. It is rare to see any of these ships operating in singletons or in independent commands, as they are mostly tied to larger ships in small Task Groups or Task Forces. The few exceptions tend to be just that-exceptions. Unlike most of the other navies, the RESF does not use crewed battle riders (filling the role with Autonomous Combat Vessels), so any ship with a crew has a Tunnel Drive and a command of it’s own.
With the end of the Horizon War, there are serious debates about the viability of the lighter warship classes in Equestrian naval doctrine. This has lead to the possibility that the RESF may have to bring it’s naval doctrine into line with other navies, bringing the smaller ship classes into more independent operations (and increasing their overall combat capability).
(Note-Equestrian ships of Destroyer and lighter weight are called “Pegasus” ships, and are named after famous Pegasus in Equestrian history. The initial class names for these ships, like most other Equestrian warships, came from the Elements of Harmony.)
This is considered the smallest, FTL-capable warship in use by the Royal Equestrian Space Force. At 110 meters in length and 5,000 tons, it is not only capable of operating in planetary atmospheres and armed with weapons sufficient to be noticed by smaller warships. The Scootaloo-class Corvette is armed with a single 6cm buster launcher forward and two 3cm buster launchers on the broadsides. Point defense and shields are standard for the ship’s size and weight, but the armor is very light, almost equivalent to a civilian ship of the same weight.
Scootaloo-class corvettes are rarely used as warships themselves. Their small size and light weapons fit makes them vulnerable to anything larger than themselves. And, while the point defense is heavy enough to discourage ACVs and seeking weapons, the same lightness in the hull means that any hit will do major damage. The most common use of this ship is as a messenger ship-with a squadron of eight ships being standard for most fleets, and dreadnoughts and superdreadnoughts carrying a single Scootaloo on external clamps to provide FTL communications. With the end of the Horizon War, serious discussions are ongoing about the future of corvettes in general and the Scootaloo-class in particular. It may be that a future frigate replacement for the Rainbow Dash-class may replace the roles that the Scootaloo fills, with the Scootaloo-class hulls being broken up or used as target drones.
Rainbow Dash-class Frigate
150 meters long and massing 9,500 tons, the Rainbow Dash-class frigate holds the distinction of being the highest acceleration non-ACV warship in the Royal Equestrian Space Force. This is at the cost of weapons, as the ship carries only two 6cm buster launchers and two 3cm broadside buster launchers. To make up for this light offensive fit, the ship carries point defense and shields equivalent to most other navies’ destroyers, and the armor fit is about standard for the ship’s weight.
Serious discussion about the continued use of frigates in general, and the Rainbow Dash in particular, arose over the Horizon War. While capable in many roles, the ship’s small size meant that in large fleet actions, it was too fragile when facing up against long-ranged guided weapons from enemy warships. Proponents of the class note that the mission role for frigates was to serve as nodes for remote drones and denial of enemy recon drone operations, not to lie in the wall of battle with larger ships. Debate is ongoing as to what will happen with both the class and future ships. There is work being done on a future class of frigates (tentatively named the Soarin-class) that would be 20% larger, have a lower acceleration rate, and carry both heavier armor and shields than the Rainbow Dash-class.
At 190 meters and 11,000 tons, the Fluttershy-class destroyer is considered one of the multi-purpose ship classes in the Royal Equestrian Space Forces. The class has good acceleration, two 6cm buster launchers forward and two 4cm broadside weapons, two VLS arrays for missiles (the ship can fire three salvoes of twenty missiles per launcher array), and point defense more in line with a light cruiser than a destroyer. The cost of this is armor and shields in the same weight range as destroyers of other nations, short combat endurance with the missile launchers, and relatively short “legs” in terms of supply storage. But, since Equestrian naval doctrine considers destroyers to be escorts for heavier ships, this is not as much a problem as it would be if the ship had to operate independently.
The capabilities of the base hull has leant it to several variants, such as the Shadow Wing-class commando transport, Daring Do-class exploration ship, and the Angel Feather-class fleet escort. With the end of the Horizon War, a serious debate about the nature of the fleet and its ships is ongoing. The Fluttershy-class is looking at replacement in the form of the Spitfire-class destroyer, which would be nearly 30% larger and mount a much more powerful primary weapons fit.
Daring Do-class Exploration Ship
Essentially a Fluttershy-class destroyer with the missile launchers removed for more storage and laboratory space, the Daring Do class is usually paired up with Starswirl-class Exploration Cruisers, with the Daring Dos ranging through the newly discovered solar system while the Starswirl-class ships hold themselves at the Tunnel Drive limit. If the Spitfire-class destroyer enters service, many newer Fluttershys may be converted into Daring Dos for the Exploration Services.