Oddly under-represented in the Royal Equestrian Space Force, the big issue with battle cruisers is the usual mission role of battle cruiser is commerce denial. Meanwhile, the RESF’s primary concern was commerce protection, for which heavy cruiser and fast battleships filled the two missions needed for commerce protection (protection against piracy and dealing with pirate ports). However, the need of a heavier hull ship that wasn’t a full-scale battleship dictated the deployment of battle cruiser hulls. The main problem of the class, prior to the Horizon War, was that the RESF went by a “cruiser writ large” design doctrine in both weapons and defenses. This meant that the class was lighter in the framework and systems than the IGSN’s Raptor-class battle cruiser.
The class would see a resurgence post-Horizon War, and the newer classes of ships would be built on the “battleship writ small” design philosophy. However, they are still somewhat “oddball” ships in the RESF and fleet commands of this class tend to find themselves in odd situations.
(Note-Equestrian ships of battle cruiser weight are called “Unicorn”-ships, and are named after famous Unicorns ponies in Equestrian history. The initial class names for these ships, like most other Equestrian warships, came from the Elements of Harmony.)
At 47,000 tons and 300 meters long, Rarity-class battlecruisers were built according to the “cruiser writ large” doctrine of pre-Horizon War starship designs. The ship mounts four bow-mounted 10cm buster launchers, eight 8cm buster launchers surrounding the hull, and four plasma torpedo launchers. Like all RESF warships, the ship has heavier point defense than the “standard” weight of other battlecruisers. The ship mounts heavy armor for a battlecruiser, but only average shields. Naval designers believed that it would be easier to upgrade shield technology as innovations came along, but the lighter (by battle cruiser standards) shields were always a problem during the ship’s history.
After the end of the Horizon War, the Rarity-class would be put into second line service, as the newer Moon Dancer-class battle cruiser would be deployed. However, the hull would see an extended lifespan in the form of Starswirl-class Exploration Cruisers.
Moon Dancer-class Battlecruiser
Built just after the end of the Horizon War, the Moon Dancer class was designed as a “battleship writ small”, similar to Imperial Griffin Navy battle cruisers. Massing 52,000 tons and 300 meters long, the Moon Dancer mounts four bow-mounted 12cm buster launchers, eight 10cm buster launchers on the hull, and six plasma torpedo launchers. Armor and shields are at the standard rate for the class, with slightly heavier shields and point defense.
The Moon Dancer-class would see itself paired with the Princess Luna and Princess Sunset Shimmer-class fast battleships, since both classes share the same acceleration profiles.
Sunburst-class Squadron Drone Tender
The Sunburst-class SDT is a variant hull of the Rarity-class, designed to carry twenty-four Spike-class ACVs, at the cost of secondary weapons. The class mounts four bow-mounted 10cm buster launchers and the same point defense fit as the Rarity-class. The primary weapon system of the ship is the Spike-class ACVs, and the ship is built to rapidly repair, recycle, and relaunch the ACVs in fleet operations. The role of the Sunburst-class depends upon the opposition. Against the IGSN, the class serves in a counter-force function against the Griffin Pinion-class ACV, while the SMRF uses the crewed Spur-class battle rider in fleet actions. The major role of the Sunburst is to provide a fleet defense against Changeling ships with their horde of Larva-class drones.
Discussions about a larger version of the Sunburst, built on the Moon Dancer hull are underway. This version of the ship (tentatively named the Minuette-class) would carry thirty ACVs in the extended hull sections of the ship.
Bright Bulb-class Ground Forces Support Ship
Built to support the Royal Equestrian Ground Forces, the Bright Bulb-class is designed to carry a Ground Forces Reaction Battalion and provide it with 90 days of combat support independent of supply ships. To this end, the ship is stripped of most of its offensive weapons fit; mounting mostly the bow-mounted 10cm buster launchers and point defense systems. The ship carries enough dropships to land the Ground Forces battalion of 1,200 soldiers in a single lift, including armored vehicles and support systems. The ship also carries a wide variety of kinetic energy weapons, from guided anti-armor munitions to area bombardment weapons. The class mostly sees work in anti-piracy operations, and providing garrison forces during occupations.
The major disadvantage of the class is that it only carries a single platoon of AGV-33 grav tanks, which means that larger support ships (built on a fast merchant hull) are needed to carry Ground Forces Brigade Combat Teams.
Starswirl-class Exploration Cruiser
Like the Daring Do-class, the Starswirl class would remove the torpedo launchers from a Rarity-class battle cruiser for enlarged supplies and laboratory facilities. Two additional heavy lift shuttles are also carried, designed to allow for the establishment of a ground research facility as needed. Like the Daring Do-class, these ships fall under the command of the Exploration Service, despite their Navy crews and origins.