Patrol Craft designations cover a large assortment of light, short to mid-range vessels, use by both military and civilian personnel. Patrol Craft include Corvettes, Cutters, Gunboats, Clippers, Sloops, Corsairs and Monitors. Although all are group as Patrol Craft, each is unique in their design and abilities.
Modern Corvettes are designed to conduct patrols in and near established Star Bases and Outposts. They are built for extreme manoeuvrability, often sacrificing speed for manoeuvrability. Most Corvettes are armed for short to mid-range battle, with either a small number of heavy firepower weapons, or a larger number of light weapons.
Corvettes are designed primarily to work in teams or three or more vessels, patrolling in and around the immediate air space of a space station or outpost. Corvettes are not designed for deep space patrols, having very limited supplies. They are equipped with sensitive sensor equipment, equal to most cruisers and escorts. They are also equipped with excellent crew amenities, due to the tedium of their missions. Corvettes are very inexpensive to build and maintain.
Light Corvettes are essentially a larger version or a Long Range Shuttle or Courier. Most operate in larger squadrons than standard Corvettes, and often use similar tactics to fighters and armed shuttles.
Light Corvettes do have extremely sensitive sensor equipment in keeping with their mission parameters. Most remain on patrol no longer than a few weeks, even during times of conflict. Because of their small crew compliment and ease of construction, Light Corvettes can be mass produced on a huge scale, with nearly every Star base in the Federation having one or more squadrons of Light Corvettes.
Cutters, like Gunboats, are designed to operate in squadrons of 3 to 5 vessels, in and around an established outpost or base. They act as customs vessels, inspecting incoming transports, freighters and other ships. They have only moderate sensor systems, but often have a small boarding party or Marine or Ground Forces personnel.
Most Cutters are built for only short range, remaining on patrol for no more than a month. Cutters are also used in-system to scan local planets, re-supply in-system listening posts and research facilities, conduct sensor sweeps of asteroid fields and escort vulnerable incoming vessels. When faced with a large cruiser or small squadron, Cutters swarm a target, attempting to overwhelm it’s attack capability.
Cutters almost exclusively employ short range weapons, opting for multiple hits rather than range. Although dangerous against large warships, this doctoring allows cutters to easily overwhelm most pirate vessels. Cutters are not built for speed, opting for manoeuvrability. Cutters are very common in most populated Federation systems.
Gunboats are designed to patrol in large numbers near established shipping and transport lanes, attacking enemy forces and pirate raiders.
Gunboats, similar to Cutters, are built for speed rather than manoeuvrability, and are armed with longer range weapons, balancing ease of construction with combat ability. Most do not have as sensitive a sensor system as Corvettes or Cutters, but have stronger shield and higher speed.
Most Gunboats also have larger cargo facilities, allowing longer patrols. Like Corvettes, Gunboats are designed to swarm a single target, overwhelming it targeting ability and delivering multiple hits on all sides.