Flim-Flam Class Frontier Cargo Ship
This class of cargo ship, at 200 meters long in the fully designed system, is unique among cargo ships because of the mission profile for the class. Built by various Equestrian shipyards, the Flim-Flam is actually three ships in one, all assembled together to carry cargo to colony worlds and frontier worlds that are only irregularly supported by larger cargo ships.
The three major components of the ship is two separate cargo shuttles/landers in the form of the Flim-class and Flam-class cargo shuttle, and the main drive rail that the two cargo shuttles dock to. The main drive rail, which is classified as the Grafter-class FTL tug, is built as an entirely space-only craft. The Grafter mounts a Tunnel Drive for FTL operations, gravity drives for interplanetary transit, and the crew accommodations for the complete crew of the ship. Docked to two sets of external clamps is the Flim and Flam cargo shuttles.
The Flim-class cargo shuttle is a massive cargo shuttle, built to carry forty-six cargo pallets or loose cargo in a single large bay. The main bay hatch is a double hatch system with sufficient vector manipulators to unload cargo pallets without external aids. The shuttle has a crew of three and sufficient passenger space for eight ponies without using the cargo bay. While the shuttle is rough-field rated-with large landing skids and sufficient anti-gravity lift to carry a full cargo load in a 2G gravity well-the shuttle works best with “improved” fields. The Flim-class shuttle mounts a standard sensor array for planetary operations and full life support systems for landing operations.
The Flam-class cargo shuttle is smaller than the Flim-class, and is designed to carry four cargo pallets and a small amount of loose cargo or passengers. The cargo pallets are mounted semi-externally for ease of loading and unloading, and mounts sufficient vector manipulators to rapidly detach, unload, and reload cargo pallets for cargo operations. The shuttle has a crew of three and can carry up to four ponies in the small internal cargo bay. The craft is fully rough-field rated, with very large landing skids and sufficient anti-gravity lift to carry a full cargo load in a 5G gravity well. The Flam-class mounts a full sensor array for planetary operations, including full IFR operations without external communications or active sensor systems.
Critics of the Flam-class cargo shuttle point out that the only difference between a Flam-class cargo shuttle and the REGF Lightning Dash-class infantry dropship is the Flam-class does not mount an ECM array, internal and external ordinance, and several classified sensor systems.
The primary critics of the Flim Flam-class are naval officers, whom point out the class is built as a blockade runner and smuggling ship. The ability of the Flam-class cargo landers to take cargos anywhere on a planet means that they can bypass customs and restrictions on contraband. In addition, the Flim Flam-class has significant acceleration with a full cargo load, easily in the same as most non-warship customs ships.
Proponents, on the other hand, note that the new colonies that the Flim Flam-class services are in the state of needing cargoes now. The Flam-class cargo lander can support and supply distant outposts on a colony world, that would require much more extensive transport of cargos needed. The high acceleration gives the class the ability to swiftly travel from the arrival point from Tunnel Drive and back out to the Tunnel Drive limit. This allows colonies to quickly get their products to market and help deal with the cash balances that any new colony has to deal with. The acceleration also makes the class much more difficult for pirates to intercept the ship. In addition, from a military perspective, a Flim Flam-class ship can carry sufficient supplies to support a REGF battalion for thirty days of combat operations and deploy the cargo to forward operating bases.
Regardless of the issues, the Flim Flam-class can be seen across the frontier in various territories. Several licensed versions are built in Griffin Moot and Imperial Zebra shipyards. A version built for the Senate and Minotaur Republic that can be operated without a sapient AI is also manufactured by various shipyards.