A light attack craft, commonly abbreviated to LAC, was a comparatively small, armed intrasystem space vessel. The fact that it was not hyper-capable distinguished it from the larger types of warships. Most star nations employed LACs for their system defense forces.
LACs were initially built as light system defense vessels, but their low acceleration and poor armament and defense meant they had fallen out of favor in modern navies by the 20th Century PD. Using new inertial compensator and nuclear fission technology obtained from Grayson, the Royal Manticoran Navy introduced new LAC designs with far superior performance, and created the LAC carrier to transport them through hyperspace. The Manticoran Alliance used the new LACs to devastating effect during the First Havenite-Manticoran War, and the Republic of Haven Navy in turn introduced its own modern LACs during the Second Havenite-Manticoran War.
Several unnamed light attack craft were part of the Grayson Space Navy in 1903 PD. They could reach accelerations of 375g. (HH2) Grayson LACs of the time were significant because they used fission power plants and a crude but unique compensator. Admiral Sonja Hemphill later combined Manticoran technology and manufacturing practices to produce fission powered LACs (Shrike-A, Shrike-B, and Ferret). The inertial compensator designs represented a significant departure in theory from the compensators in use across the remainder of civilized space. While the Grayson built versions of the compensators were crude and bulky, when these new design concepts encountered modern Manticoran technology it led to a significant improvement in compensator efficiency and provided the Alliance warships with a marked acceleration advantage throughout the first war with Haven.
The Katana-class LAC was a Grayson design that was the offspring of the Alliance's space superiority LAC project. When the High Ridge government killed the project, the Protectorate recognized that there would be a need to defend against enemy LACs if hostilities should recommence. Grayson Tech and Liason Teams finalized the design and put it into production. At the same time the Grayson Navy developed the Viper "Anti-LAC" missile. Exchange rates between Shrikes and the Havenite Cimeterres hovered around 3-to-1; against Katanas the exchange rate was around 7-to-1. These vessels were the first Space Superiority LACs and should be around for years to come. (HH10)
In 1903 PD, two unnamed LACs were led into the Yeltsin's Star System by MNS Bancroft. They attacked a trio of Royal Manticoran Navy ships and were subsequently destroyed. They all were of the same type as Bancroft. (HH2)
The Havenite Cimeterre-class LAC was designed as a response to the Shrike- and Ferret-classes of the Manticoran Alliance. Though not as technologically advanced as their Manticoran counterparts and usually deployed in far greater numbers, the Cimeterres nevertheless managed to reduce much of the advantage Manticore had enjoyed before. (HH10)
The Shrike-class LACs were the first of their kind designed to conduct offensive operations against modern hyper-capable units after being carried through hyperspace by LAC carriers. The refined fission plants offered huge space savings in terms of both mass and volume and allowed the Manticoran ship designers to build an impressive array of offensive and defensive systems into the vessels instead. The primary offensive armament of the original Shrikes was a massive battlecruiser-sized graser. Shrikes also mounted an impressive number of cruiser-weight ship killer missiles, standard countermissles, and point defense lasers mounts. Additionally, the high power budgets of the original Shrikes allowed them to mount powerful sidewall generators which enabled them to survive to bring their massive energy weapons to bear on enemy warships. Later versions of the Shrike incorporated a bowwall and then later a sternwall as well. Shrikes were arguably one of the most successful and dynamic designs produced by the Royal Manticoran Navy and they remain cutting edge more than six years after they were first designed. The Shrikes of Admiral White Haven's Eight Fleet spearheaded Operation Buttercup and were instrumental in bringing the First Havenite-Manticoran War to conclusion.
As the tactical balance shifted to missile combat, it became apparent that the Shrike's magazine capacity was too low to be able to 1) saturate enemy defenses, 2) defend themselves against enemy missile attack. As a result, the Ferret-class LACs were essentially a Shrike with the graser removed and a dramatically increased missile armament. Ferrets had the magazine capacity to overcome the "Layered Defense Doctrine" employed by the Republican Navy, and were used to great effect against enemy screening elements and other LACs. (HH9)
Known LAC classes
Protectorate of Grayson
Republic of Haven
Star Kingdom / Star Empire of Manticore