Interceptors are a class of frigate designed for pursuit and tackling. They utilize advanced alloys and electronics to reduce their effective signature radius and mass, making them capable of high-speed maneuvering. Highly popular amongst capsuleers, they also fill vital roles in traditional fleets.
Specialized interceptors are relatively recent creations. For centuries, the role of pursuit vessel was filled by ordinary frigates, making the task of chasing and capturing larger ships dangerous and difficult. Frigates were the only ships capable of the task, as vessels in the larger destroyer and cruiser classes were too sluggish to capture targets with a high success rate.
It wasn't until the discovery of practical applications for morphite that a solution was found. Morphite, when combined with traditional alloys, produced a high-strength material that could be made in thin sheets and retain its structure. This allowed for frigates that had less mass while being more difficult to destroy.
However, these earliest improvements caused additional problems. The high accelerations and high-speed maneuvers allowed by the lesser mass required more advanced electronics than were in existence at the time. Additionally, traditional crews were heavily impacted by the forces that piloting an interceptor entailed. Blackouts were frequent from the sudden shift in g-forces, while ruptured blood vessels, loss of consciousness, and even cases of death were infrequent dangers.
The immediate solution, as with many things, was the application of the capsule. The technology had already been in military circulation for decades, but it proved particularly useful with interceptors, allowing for the reduction of the crew to a solitary pilot. The capsule provided a cushion against the extreme forces of the interceptor's maneuvering, while also interfacing directly with the pilot's mind, making sudden course corrections and alterations near instantaneous.
Once interceptors began seeing extensive use on the battlefield, another role emerged for them: one on one dog fighters. The best counter to interceptors often proved to be other interceptors and soon battles came to see almost two separate engagements; one between traditional larger ships and another between interceptors trying to kill or drive each other off.
With the rise of private capsuleers, interceptor technology moved out of the realm of militaries and into public hands in December, YC 105. Since their introduction, further improvements to the technology has allowed them to be manned in a limited fashion by non-capsuleer pilots, though capsuleers are still considered to be the optimal choice for their usage.
Interceptors utilize two important technologies. The first is morphite alloys. Morphite on its own is an unremarkable material, but when combined with other materials, it has a tendency to make them far more durable. This is put to great use with interceptors, where the traditional alloys used in frigate construction are combined with morphite to create incredibly thin and lightweight sheets that retain a high degree of strength.
These thin sheets are layered into durable plates that make up much of the superstructure of the interceptors, allowing them to be tougher than ordinary frigates while containing less mass. This reduction in mass is an important component in keeping interceptors mobile and reducing their signature radius, making it more difficult for sensors to achieve locks. A morphite additive to the warp core casing allows for much improved ionic shielding, even countering the signature bloom effects of fitted micro warp drives.
The second technology is a highly advanced navigation computer which serves several important purposes. The most obvious is the redundant FTL calculations. Tri-parallel computing cores allow the Interceptor precise FTL calculations on the fly, allowing for vastly improved warp acceleration, course correction, and the ability to identify and ignore false-destination signatures caused by non-targeted interdiction. This grants an incredible ease of movement throughout a heavily interdicted battlefield, only stymied when caught by more direct forms of warp jamming.
Interceptors are also fitted with extremely delicate and advanced electronics. The navigational computers are tied directly into the sensor suite, enabling extremely precise course corrections to heading and velocity that counter various minute external forces that would often go unnoticed by the pilot. A cutting edge electronic warfare package also allows the Interceptor to use far less energy in their activation while providing greatly improved efficiency. These improvements however come at the cost of a slightly shorter effective range for the sensors.
The most cutting edge military interceptors have highly advanced inertial reduction technology as well. While this offers no edge in performance, it does allow non-capsuleers to effectively pilot the ships. This has made the ships see increasing use in naval engagements, even when capsuleers cannot be spared for the role.
Interceptors tend to have small crews. Modern capsuleer interceptors typically utilize very sparse crew, typically only the pilot and a small, highly trained specialist crew of one to three members that can withstand the extreme forces of the ship's maneuvering. Non-capsule fitted interceptors have larger crews, but they still remain small by necessity.
Any additional weight over what is absolutely required tends to affect performance, meaning life aboard an Interceptor is reminiscent of ancient space exploration where supplies were strictly rationed and life in zero-g was the norm. This leaves Interceptors unable to withstand long term deployments. Interceptors thus tend to be crewed by hardy and experienced crew, skilled in the operation of frigates and other small vessels without the comforts of modern space travel. The pilots of fighters and dropships are frequently tapped to pilot or crew interceptors, as their experience piloting small, maneuverable ships is invaluable.