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.
Significant amounts of time were spent developing more efficient means of recovering, arming, and launching waves of fighters from the carriers. Unlike most other YGF ships, the carriers were heavily dependent on their fighter complement, so proficiency in carrier operations was essential for success. The ships were seen largely as command ships and YGF carrier doctrine employed most of the fighters in defensive fashion.
The first usage of Jar'Kai in combat was against a fleet commanded by Rogue Imperial admiral Daash Islevisis intent on carving out a new fiefdom in Wild Space. Due to a perceived weakness in starfighter defenses, a massive starfighter attack of 228 starfighters was launched against his ship. Over six hours, the fighters wore down the Imperial fleet, killing Islevisis. YGF carrier tactics were tested and evaluated based on the battle, which cost ten fighters lost in exchange for a much higher cost from the Imperial fleet. Six of those fighters were from the carrier involved, Vigilant Refuge.
In 19 ABY, a Jar'Kai made another rare appearance over the arboreal world of Oldaris VII in a show of force maneuver designed to intimidate two squabbling parties back into negotiations after tensions threatened the talks. The ship was heavily escorted and was able to defuse the situation without fighting.
By 24 ABY, the fleet had been reorganized into a main fleet, home fleet, and two auxiliary squadrons. Both the main fleet and home fleet were anchored by a Jar'Kai—the carriers were simply too valuable to use elsewhere. As such, they were rarely deployed.
The next time the Jar'Kais were deployed was over Saraswan in 25 ABY, where the Yanibar Guard became embroiled in an internecine revolt against the ex-Imperial planetary government, after they captured Yanibar's leader, Selu Kraen, during diplomatic negotiations. The Yanibar Guard freed Selu and then launched a massive assault against Saraswan's ex-Imperial leaders. In space, Yanibar's fleet sent a reinforced main fleet, including the carrier Stalwart Stormrider to deal with Saraswan's navy. In a departure from previous tactics, most starfighters were launched in a flanking strike, leaving the capital ships relatively undefended. However, this lured the Saraswan fighters in to face waves of droid fighters and ship gunnery. While such a move would have been risky during the height of Imperial piloting prowess, Saraswan fighter pilots were of significantly lower quality. Only thirty-one starfighters were lost during the battle and Saraswan's navy was completely defeated. Stormriders's guns scored the first direct kills by a Jar'Kai in the battle by shooting down three hostile Preybird fighters. The carrier and the rest of the fleet then stayed in orbit for several months providing fire support to the beleaguered Saraswan partisans, helping them eventually overthrow the government and defeat their ex-Imperial tyrants.
During the Yuuzhan Vong War, the carrier Vigilant Refuge was the flagship of a force under Commodore Arystek sent to recover Yanibar citizens who had been operating a refugee camp on Ord Pardron until it was attacked by Yuuzhan Vong. Arystek's force was able to recover a few survivors until being re-tasked to Rishi to recover an Elite Guardian team. Arystek's fleet soundly defeated a Yuuzhan Vong advanced force but was unable to immediately retrieve the team from the surface. While negotiations stalled, the Yuuzhan Vong arrived in force and nearly overran her and her ships, boarding the Vigilant Refuge. Arystek was nearly killed and only the timely arrival of Selu Kraen and the bulk of the main fleet saved the Yanibar Guard Fleet from total defeat. Selu led a counter-boarding action that recovered the carrier, but the ship was too wounded to salvage. As such, the Vigilant Refuge was self-destructed to damage multiple Yuuzhan Vong ships, along with their Peace Brigade allies, and a stalemate quickly developed in space. Ultimately, the battle was won through a series of skirmishes ultimately resulting in a negotiated withdrawal after both sides were considerably bloodied.
During the battle, Yanibar was attacked by Yuuzhan Vong, who initiated a geological catastrophe that would slowly doom the planet. As such, the Force exiles on Yanibar prepared to evacuate and rebuild their wounded fleet. The remaining Jar'Kai-class carrier was retired and decommissioned in 32 ABY, replaced by Memoriam-class battle cruisers that also replaced the Soresu fleet defenders. As Yanibar's military prepared for its exodus, there was little need or resources available to build a dedicated carrier, and reducing the number of hull types in service reduced maintenance and development costs.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Jar'Kai-class carrier was, at varying points during the development of Force Exile, a ship whose size and numbers varied considerably. Ultimately, Atarumaster88 felt that operating large amounts of carriers would not suit a largely defensive fleet, as carriers are principally a power-projection tool more suited for expeditionary forces and reduced the number. The battle against Daash Islevisis, where starfighters from a Jar'Kai-class carrier featured extensively, was inspired by the real-world sinking of the Yamato in World War II.
Large portions of Force Exile V were set on the carrier Vigilant Refuge, although the ship was ultimately lost. Due to having more action on the ship, Atarumaster88 spent more time conceptually designing the layout of the ship than he did with many other ships due to more scenes spent traversing the ship. The carrier was depicted by a pencil sketch, although at one point, Atarumaster88 considered creating a 3-D model of the carrier before deciding it was too large and complex to model. Its visual design was influenced by real-world carriers, the Stargate universe's BC-304 battlecruisers, and the Hyperion battlecruiser from Starcraft.
- Vigilant Refuge
- Stalwart Stormrider