The Jar'Kai-class carriers arose after an intense 5 ABY budget debate over the future of the Yanibar Guard Fleet. After the devastation wrought by the Battle of Yanibar, funds were stretched extremely tight due to the need to rebuild. The Yanibar Guard Fleet had originally wanted eight Soresu-class Fleet Defenders and three larger warships capable of defeating Imperial Star Destroyers in addition to full repairs and restorations of the ships lost in the battle. However, competing civil and defense priorities meant that Yanibar's government was unwilling to fund such a costly fleet addition. Instead, an alternate study proposed what eventually became the Jar'Kai-class.
The Jar'Kai-class was very much a dedicated carrier. Its weapon systems were purely defensive and it relied heavily on its complement of fighters for both offense and defense. The ship had extensive sensors and communication systems to assist in coordinating its sizeable fighter wing, which made it a common choice for flag officers to use as their flagship, when available.
However, the carriers were intentionally built resilient. Reinforced, redundant layers of shielding protected each carrier and the hulls were designed such that the hangars could be completely gutted without damaging the carriers. There was as much hull armor separating the core of the ship from its four expansive hangar bays as there was protecting the hangars themselves. Proportionally, there were more communications, damage control, and security personnel on board a Jar'Kai than any other Yanibar Guard Fleet vessel.
Each Jar'Kai-class carrier supported a fighter arm of 9 starfighter squadrons split into multiple fighter types. 3 squadrons of Sabres provided the primary interception and escort capability for the carrier, while another 3 squadrons of Shotos served as point-defense screening fighters. The remaining three squadrons were split between two B-wing squadrons for assault and a Valkyrie bomber squadron for heavy assault and reconnaissance. An additional 144 Clone Wars-era Vulture droid starfighters were carried in the fourth hangar bay for use as a disposable fighter screen or assault force. 12 Javelin shuttles for transport and rescue completed its complement. All together, a single Jar'Kai carrier could launch a fighter force greater in numbers than that of three Imperial Star Destroyers.
To support this massive starfighter wave, each Jar'Kai was crewed by at least two Elite Guardians capable of employing battle meditation to support the efforts of the carrier and its fighters. Yanibar Guard Fleet doctrine insisted that carriers never operate without adequate escort and they were considered even more valuable than Fleet Defenders despite being considerably smaller. They were also not equipped for atmospheric entry.
On orders from the Ruling Council, the cost of producing all eight Soresu-class and three larger ships that had preliminarily been dubbed the Djem So-class was carefully analyzed and submitted. The results were staggering to a refuge struggling to rebuild after substantial damage done by Tyber Zann's short-lived invasion. In particular, the Djem So-class was criticized for its high unit cost and high crew demands. Bitter arguments arose in the council between proponents of the 1900 meter warship and fiscal hawks. To mollify both parties, Master Selu Kraen asked Kraechar Arms, YGI, and the YGF to collaborate on a replacement ship that could provide the Yanibar Guard Fleet with defensive capability against capital ships without the excess cost.
After a year's worth of analysis of Star Destroyers, Mon Calamari cruisers, and other common capital ships, the panel returned with findings and a recommendation. Instead of building conventional warships designed to stand up to capital ships in a slugging match, it recommended a starfighter carrier. Preliminary designs showed that the carrier could be built smaller than the Soresu-class while still threatening to larger warships with the proper complement of starfighters and starfighter pilots. With that design in hand, Master Kraen submitted his recommendation to the council to replace the Djem So-class with the new carrier, dubbed the Jar'Kai. However, cost-cutting proponents had a solid majority in the council and obtained further cuts. The total number of Soresu-class Fleet Defenders was reduced from eight to five, while the number of carriers was cut from three to two in a drastic force reduction. The partially-constructed hulls of two Soresu-class Fleet Defenders were re-appropriated for use in constructing the Jar'Kais.
In a galaxy where the Empire seemed to be falling apart and the Emperor was dead, the cuts were pushed through. The carriers were finished in 11 and 14 ABY respectively and earned their place in the Yanibar Guard Fleet as the last two capital ships to enter service.
- Vigilant Refuge
- Stalwart Stormrider