Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, a Star Trek web series that looks at the Truth, or canon information, to dispel any of the myths that have surfaced on a given topic. In today’s episode, we’re taking a look at the Jem’Hadar Fighter, also known as the Jem’Hadar Attack Ship, in an effort to better understand it’s place in Star Trek History…
The Jem’Hadar Fighter was one of the smallest, yet strongest and most versatile ships in the Dominion Fleet. And during the Dominion War would time and time again prove to be a force to be reckoned with for Starfleet and The United Federation of Planets.
Starfleet’s first real encounter with the Jem’Hadar Fighter occurred at the end of the year 2370, when Commander Benjamin Sisko of Starbase Deep Space 9, who was on leave with his son Jake, Quark, the station’s bar owner and his nephew Nog, was captured by the Gamma Quadrant power known as the Dominion.
In response, Starfleet sent one of it’s best starships, the Galaxy Class U.S.S. Odyssey, to retrieve the Starfleet officer and his companions, while simultaneously assessing the situation in the Gamma Quadrant. though successful in retrieving Commander Sisko, Ultimately the Odyssey would be destroyed in a Kamikaze style manoeuvre performed by an attack fighter, and the Federation would have plummeted into a state of cold war with the newly encountered government.
The Jem’Hadar Fighter was approximately 109 meters in length and crewed by 42 Jem’Hadar officer and 1 Vorta supervisor.
This Jem’Hadar Fighter’s design had a look reminiscent of an insect, specifically a scarab of the planet Earth, and so Starfleet Officers would at times refer to this ship as a bug ship, and given the persistence and behaviour of its Jem’Hadar crew, was aptly named. The Jem’Hadar Fighter was also very different in design then Starfleet ships in many ways. So sturdy was the design of this ship class, that it could actually survive an uncontrolled re-entry and crash landing on a planets surface relatively intact.
Although highly manoeuvrable in itself, this class was slightly less manoeuvrable then Federation Runabouts, though of course, much more powerful than those tiny crafts. The standard cruising speed of this vessel was warp factor 7, and although it’s maximum speed is unknown, it is believed that this class could achieve speeds up to warp factor 9.6, though this has never been confirmed. Tactically, this class was generally equipped with Phased Polaron Beam Weapons and standard torpedo systems. Though some of the class would eventually be reconfigured for Disruptor use.
Initially Starfleet was not familiar with Polaron Weapons and as such, federation shield systems were useless against stopping a Jem’Hadar attack, however after analyzing this new weapons type, Starfleet was quickly able to adapt it’s shield systems making the Fighters weaponry on par in Strength as that of standard phaser and disruptor systems known through out the Alpha Quadrant.
In fact, Starfleet’s ability to adapt its systems for this new enemy was so great, that a larger ship could easily destroy a ship of this class with a few good phaser hits. As a result, Jem’Hadar Fighter ships would adapt a general strategy of travelling in packs of 3 or more ships to ensure not only their own survival but the destruction of their intended target.
Following the Dominions alliance with the Breen Confederacy, the Jem’Hadar Fighter would be refit to house the new Breen Energy Dampening Weapon. And although this new weapon had devastating consequences for Starfleet during its initial uses, it was quickly overcome by Starfleet’s scientists and rendered useless.
Jem’Hadar tactics would also see this class perform many suicide runs when the Dominion were outgunned or left with few options. And it’s sturdy design, would see this class inflict maximum damage on the target that it was ramming. This class was equipped with standard tractor beam technology for the era, it’s transporter technology was far superior to that of any Alpha Quadrant race or starship. Its scientific systems such as sensor technology were also very advanced. This class could easily adapt its scanners to antiproton scans which could penetrate the cloaking technology of both the Klingon and Romulan Empires.
The Jem’Hadar Fighter was also capable of atmospheric entry and landing. Having a large bay door to allow quick deployment of Jem’Hadar Soldiers, this ship could act as a command centre for the Vorta supervisor to coordinate planetary operations. The Bridge of a Jem’Hadar Fighter was a far departure from the standard design of Federation, Klingon or Romulan Command Centers.
Unlike Federation starships, these bridges had no chairs or main viewscreen for its officers. rather the Vorta Supervisor and the Jem’Hadar first would be given special headsets that they would wear and would give them a 360-degree view of the space surrounding the ship. Though an impressive design, these virtual display devices proved problematic for human wearers, as they would often cause major headaches for the human who was wearing them. Cardassian physiology, however, seemed quite compatible with this technology.
Access to the bridge could be achieved by 3 doors or 2-floor hatches. And instead of a command or captains chair, this class design contained a station which the Vorta Supervisor would control and command the ship from. Bridge stations would surround this command position and be pointing inward facing the Vorta. Given the nature of Both the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta, this class would also see the absence of many of the ship’s systems Starfleet officers would take for granted. This class contained no sickbay or medical facilities as the loss of a Jem’Hadar or a Vorta would just mean a new one would be cloned, so as a result, these races lives would be considered fairly expendable.
Also, this class would not have food replicators in the traditional sense since the Jem’Hadar did not eat. And although the Vorta were required to consume nutrients like most Alpha Quadrant races, their food would often be stored aboard ship in the form of rations consumed as needed. Colouring aboard this class was very similar to that of Romulan ships, using greens with a stark contrast of pinks. However, this class also utilized many copper tones and the ships themselves were more dimly illuminated then their Federation counterparts.
Ships of this class took part in many engagements with the Federation and it’s allies since Starfleet first encountered them back in 2370. Though the USS defiant, of the new Defiant Class of Starships designed by Starfleet in response to the Borg threat, was an overpowered warship, it too had difficulty repealing an attack by the Jem Hadar Fighters during its initial encounter with them in 2371. But through Starfleet ingenuity and continual upgrades to the class, eventually, the Defiant Class of ships would prove to be a superior design to the Jem’Hadar Fighters at least in terms of firepower.
Recently declassified information by Starfleet Command, however, has revealed a mission vital to the survival of Federation conducted aboard a captured Jem’Hadar Fighter. In 2373, while conducting a mineral survey of an uninhabited planet in the Gamma Quadrant, the aforementioned Benjamin Sisko, now a Captain in Starfleet, would find a downed Jem’Hadar ship of this class and begin salvage operations to retrieve it.
Entering the ship, Captain Sisko’s crew quickly discover it to be mostly intact, all though all its crew had perished in the attack. And just after beginning the salvage operation, and calling the Defiant back at Deep Space 9 for its assistance, another Jem Hadar Fighter commanded by a Vorta named Kilana shows up and demands the ship to be returned to the Dominion, oddly though, the Jem’Hadar do not attack or board the ship itself.
This leads Sisko and his team to deduce that Vorta wants something aboard the ship, that this ship has some new technology or cargo that was preventing the Jem’Hadar from risking its destruction. Conducting several detailed inspections of the ship while Captain Sisko negotiated with the Vorta, The deep Space Crew were unable to find anything aboard ship which differed greatly or would explain the Jem’Hadar bizarre behaviour.
Eventually, though, the truth would be revealed, when it was discovered that an injured founder had been trapped aboard the crashed ship dies after no longer being able to retain its shape. And because they had allowed the founder to perish, the Jem’Hadar Crew committed suicide and the Vorta would alone, withdraw from the area and Captain Sisko would be successful in retrieving the Fighter.
Then a year later, in 2374. Captain Sisko and his crew would use that Fighter in a top-secret mission, to destroy a Ketracel White facility set up by the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant. Ultimately the crew was successful at their mission, though the ship itself was heavily damaged and would eventually see itself again, crash land on the planet. This time though it would crash into a body of water and would not be retrieved.
the Klingon Empire would also see many unfortunate run-ins with this class of ship. During the first battle of Chin’Toka for example, the Klingon fleet would take heavy losses when the outnumbered and out gunned Dominion forces would conduct Kamikaze runs against the Klingon Ships. This was a tactic they would repeat at various other engagements such as the Battle of Cardassia.
the Jem’Hadar Fighter would end up being a constant thorn in Starfleet and it’s allies sides. Small, powerful, easily built and easily crewed by cloned officers and men, these ships would prove to Starfleet that it’s needed for more advanced, thinking outside the Starfleet box, classes of starships that had been begun before the battle of Wolf 359 was, in fact, the right course of action. And the need for Starfleet to have the ability to adapt and grow, to protect its borders and it’s citizens could not become clear.
And although the Dominion lost the war the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, Starfleet can not afford to become complacent again, instead opting to continually refit and adapt its designs with new and exciting breakthroughs in technology and automation.
The Jem’Hadar Fighter class would continue to serve the Dominion well for many years after the war… Though owing to limited contact after the conflict, Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets does not know the current status or fleet configuration of this Gamma Quadrant Power, but one thing is certain, the Dominion is a resourceful Government, able to adapt and grow like very few other powers encountered by Starfleet, and there is no doubt within the Federation, that the Dominion will always be watching the federation and waiting… And whether that will lead to peace or another war is anyone’s guess, only time, will tell…
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