Scouts, like Cruisers, are one of the oldest designation in Federation nomenclature. Scouts are designed to conduct a number or information gathering missions, including exploration, first contact, research, and intelligence gathering. Scouts are usually smaller and lighter than other front line exploration vessels. Most are also less heavily armed, using the space for labs and research equipment. Scouts have extremely comfortable, although somewhat cramped, crew spaces, due to their extended patrols. Most scouts are used along the expanding boarder to explore and catalogue planets, stars and other space phenomenon.
No other single category of vessel can claim as many discoveries as Scouts.
Scouts are also designed to be easily repaired, and many have extensive self-repair capabilities, needing only time and raw materials to repair nearly any onboard system. Scouts have both passive and active sensor systems, often rivalling those of Heavy Cruisers. Scouts have a number of computer redundancies, used to store and transmit newly acquired information. But the focused nature of Scouts does put them at a disadvantage when compared to cruisers.
Most scouts have only moderate medical facilities, reducing their effectiveness in medical situations. Scouts also lack the large crew associated with other exploration classes. None the less, their speed and excellent detection equipment make them the ideal choice for expanding the boarders of the Federation.
Light Scouts are the smallest scout vessels in use by the Federation. Unlike standard Scouts, which have an extensive multi-target research base, Light Scouts, like Research Cruisers, are designed to concentrate several different science system on the study of a single phenomenon. Light scouts are often no larger than a cutter or large gunboat, but have extensive recreation and meeting spaces available.
Light Scouts also have a larger than average passenger compliment, with many on board crew actually civilians. Light Scouts often have only rudimentary defences, and are never sent beyond the boundaries of Federation Space.
Fast Scouts are usually known for their inability to conduct research missions, rather than their high speed. Considered some of the fastest vessels within most navies, Fast Scouts use much of their internal space to accommodate oversized engines and impulse drives, sacrificing much of their science base capability.
Most Fast Scouts do retain extremely sensitive scanning equipment, and can gather data nearly as detailed as a Survey vessel. None the less, most have half the number of labs associated with a typical scout vessel.
This give most Fast Scouts a more military mission profile. Due to their small size and usually light weapons, Fast Scouts are not know for their battle capabilities.
Battle Scouts, a Klingon term, describe vessels more commonly known as Raiders and occasionally confused with Blockade Runners. Battle Scouts, the most famous of which is the Bird of Prey design, has only a limited science capability, usually having only one or two actual labs aboard.
Many Battle Scouts are equipped with extensive ECM devices which allow them to operate closer to most enemy facilities. Battle Scouts are known for their light beam weapons and usually are equipped with a single, heavy firepower torpedo weapon.
Although unable to successfully engage large capital ships, Battle Scouts are able to use their stealth and attack Destroyers, Escorts, and on rare occasions, Cruisers. Battle part of most combat plans.
The most sought after scout assignment, the Science Scout is perhaps the most common image of scouting vessels among most navies. Science Scouts trade weapons for labs, often having more actual on-board laboratories than vessels twice their size. Science Scouts have extremely precise sensors to make extensive studies of both space-born and ground phenomenon. Science Scouts bring to bear all the science and research capabilities of a Heavy Cruiser in a platform often one quarter of the size. Science Scouts can conduct experiments and research on up to 10 or more projects simultaneously, and are credited with more discoveries than any other single class of vessel.
Science Scouts are none the less vulnerable. Because of their reduced internal volume, many are only lightly armed and moderately shielded. Most Science Scouts are assigned to relatively “safe” areas of study, having a military escort when operating near dangerous areas. Science Scouts are usually quite easy to detect, despite their small size. Their active sensor systems make them easy to spot great distances away. Truly non-military vessels, Science Scouts have large Passenger Facilities and recreation capability. Although armed, most Science Scouts would quickly run when faced with an adversary. Although not designed for it, most Science Scouts can conduct first contact missions when necessary. Many in Star Fleet seek at least a single tour aboard a Science Scout, as do many Romulans.