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The Hydran Lancer class destroyer was introduced in Y134, during the same overhaul of the Hydran fleet that produced the Hunter class frigate and Ranger class cruiser that served the Hydrans through the General War. They were originally designed to field the new gatling phaser weapon and use the first tactical-warp capable fighters of the alpha quadrant [1]. Once production of the new fleet had reached it's peak, the Hydrans used these new ships to take back their territory from the Klingons and Lyrans. Production ceased when the Buffalo Hunter class war destroyer reached full-scale production in Y176 [2]. However, the class was in service long enough to be redesigned and then produced as an X-ship.

For most of their operational life, the Lancer class had a slightly slower maximum tactical speed than the ships she was battling (about 93% the speed of her adversaries). It wasn't until the refit period of the Y170 decade that the class received larger engines. This refit also strengthened the rear shields and moved the gatling phasers to where they had a more aggressive arc. After the advent of PFs, Lancers occasionally gained a mechanical linkage to carry a single Harrier or Valkyrie class PF. Even before the refits, the Lancer is considered the most effective of the fusion-armed ships when compared class-against-class [3].

The first fighters that the Lancers carried were the Stinger class fighter. At about the time of her refits, the Stinger-II class fighter was being posted to the fleet. This class very rarely fielded the Stinger-F superiority fighter [4] and never fielded the larger Super Stinger heavy attack fighter [5]. The Lancer never fielded either the Stinger-H attack fighter or the Stinger-E electronic warfare fighter because of how the Hydrans organized their fighter squadrons.

The Lancer class had enjoyed a distinctive career, spanning over 40 years of active production. They often participated in base assaults, such as against the Klingon Border Station 12 in Y152 [6]. Many times they fought larger forces to a standstill, such as an ambushed Lancer in Y171 by a larger Lyran Panther class light cruiser and both were heavily damaged [7], or during the Hydran's coordinated attack against the Lyrans in Y169 where a Lancer and a Knight heavily damaged a Tiger class cruiser [8].

Hydran ships favor very aggressive captains. The most common tactic of the Lancer was to rush into their opponent, launch fighters at close range, take the best the opponent can dish out, and then destroy them with an alpha strike from the ship or the fighters (whichever survived) at extremely close range. A slightly less aggressive tactic revolves around forming the fighters into a gunline (a. la. the ISC echelon formation) and then attempting to run over the opponent with the entire group. Both tactics attempt to capitalize on the adage that the Hydrans have the most powerful ships in the alpha quadrant when at less than 30,000 kM to their opponent.

Hydrans do not number their ships by hull or contract, but instead use tactical designators [9]. If ship #102 is destroyed, than the next one out of the Guild's shipyards might be given that number. All ships are given a three digit number in the Hydran's trinary numbering system [10]. Thus each ship is numbered between (theoretically) 000 and 222. Ships are named after virtues, and are often also re-used after a ship's destruction. Ship names are preceded by "HMS" (Hydran Majesty's Ship) [9]. For example a ship might have the name, "#102 HMS Concept", though the only obvious hull markings would be the number.

Hydran ships have a colored band wrapped around their midsection which shows which fleet they belong to [10]. Blue represents the "1st" fleet and is posted on the Klingon border. White is the "2nd" (expeditionary) fleet. Green is the "3rd" fleet, posted on the Lyran border. Purple represents the "4th" (home) fleet, and is posted at the capital.

The Lancer class has more conversion designs than any other Hydran hull class. The most obvious difference between Lancer variants are what is placed in the heavy weapon mounts. The Lancer class uses three fusion beams, the Knight class uses two hellbore cannons, the Count, Earl, and Warrior classes mix fusion beams and hellbore cannons, the Escort Lancer class uses three gatling phasers, the Outrider and Lancer Scout classes use three special sensors, the Picador and PFT classes use tractor beams, the Commando Lancer class expanded their transporter pads into that area, and the Uhlan class moved some miscellaneous ships system there to make room for the fighter support systems. Examining the launch tube arrangements also gives a clue to the ship class, as hellbore-armed ships tend not to have the holes in the hull and the classes that deal heavily with fighter operations (e.g. escort and carrier variants) tend to have more of them. The Heavy Lancer and the Lancer-X have hulls that are notably larger than the stock Lancer.

[1] Timeline

[2] (R9.74)

[3] (R9.3)

[4] (R9.F3)

[5] (R9.F5)

[6] (SH42.0)

[7] (SH40.0)

[8] (SH79.0)

[9] Starship_Name_Registry

[10] Hydran DD painting guide