Project Neshatan

COMPILED BY Ph.D. Lt.Cdr.(N.I.) J.S. FELTS. - on behalf of the EFNI Historical department of the Investigation Office.

In the tragedy of the War Between the Earth Alliance and the Minbari Federation it was shown quite clearly that the Minbari Federation held a tactical and strategical superiority over the Earth Force in every engagement but the first. What was not so eagerly reported to the Minbari people were the vulnerabilities that this primitive species could have so clearly exposed had their procurement choices been a little wiser and had their technological developments been a few decades ahead.

While all Minbari Caste are supposed to have a portion of the fleet more often than not the Religious Caste, and especially the Worker Caste, just donate the funds for the Warrior Caste to operate the vessels. Warrior Caste politics is dominated by the Windswords, Star Riders, and Star Corsairs (in that order). The Star Riders control a majority of the fleet and have a large number of ground forces (most of which focuses around light armor and infantry). The Windswords control a smaller part of the fleet and also have a large number of ground forces (focusing on heavy armor). What the Windswords lack in numbers they make up for in wealth, influential power, and "Operations of Special Consideration". The Star Corsairs control the next largest portion of the fleet which is in the few dozens of Sharlins after the preceding juggernauts. The Star Corsairs while almost numerically equal to the Windswords are a new Clan formed form the union of several smaller, lacking the financial ability ies of the Windswords by a large degree. They have managed to crew or control a majority of the Federation's Morshin Carriers and operate the largest number of aging but venerable Tishat Medium Fighters of all Warrior Clans. All other Warrior Clans either donate funds and personnel to the Fleet, operate fighter wings, train Fighter pilots, operate or contribute axillary ground forces, or control less mainline combat/non-combat units.

Prior to the War many Religious Caste leaders openly considered having the Worker and Religious Caste operate more Warships despite the best efforts of Dukhat. Even then the cycle of Warrior Caste agitation in the wait for the Great Enemy was reaching boiling point again (as it had with the Garmak and conveniently with the Wen'dan). This time was different as the thousand year prophecy was at hand and the lack of results only strengthened Warrior Caste disapproval and mockery of the Religious Caste and the weak Anla'shok institution. All of these considerations vanished when the Valentha and its escorts were attacked while on a secret mission by the Earth Force. The Religious and Worker castes donated their ships to Warrior Caste control. The command of the War Effort was unified under a joint commission of Windswords and Star Riders with the Grey Council closely monitoring every decision. The Star Riders emerged all the stronger out of the War swallowing many of the more ancient and declining clans. In reality all Warrior Clans tried to profit in some way from the War. The Windswords and their "Operations of Special Consideration" proposed the development of marvelous and insidious weaponry and schemes. It is now known that these strict, discreet, devious, and devoted warriors (so strict as to be called Warrior Priest and to put the Bushido code in shadow) served as the conduit for Shadow infiltration into the Minbari Federation. This activity ramped up with the granting of Asylum to the Dilgar's War Master Jha'dur, easily the worst War Criminal of this millennium. After the Battle of Coriana 6 it was the compromised leadership of the Windswords which pushed the quite inept and egotistical Star Riders' leadership (one of the few exceptions was Alyt Neroon) into civil war and attempting a new government.

The Star Corsairs, for their part, attempted to gain a bigger control of the fleet through the introduction of a new ship class. The leadership of the Star Corsairs was one of the few to correctly see the Humans for what they were and saw specifically the threat their Nova Dreadnoughts could have posed. Thus, in 2247, the Star Corsairs commissioned a design team to create a Minbari equivalent of the Nova Dreadnought. It's function would be similar, provide a level of devastating firepower, in a well protected vessel, in a manner timely enough to quickly smash into disarray enemy lines. With such killers as the Sharlins around, why bother? Expense. The Minbari Federation of the time was not a very good example of a Free Market but the budgets they were working with dictated that Sharlins and Shargotis were expensive. Tinashis-class Frigates had the same vulnerabilities of the Sharlin and Shargoti and had less weaponry. If the Sharlin was a Macedonian Phalanx against a Battlecrab, the Tinashi was a pole-arm. If the Star Corsairs could secure the Rights to the production and the technologies there in, they had believed that they could extend their power without the expense of the larger cruisers and in so doing provide for their affiliated Worker Clans. So with some financial backing and a sense of urgency to complete before too many proprietary informations "appeared" with other clans, the design team set about their work.

The outcome of their work was the Project Neshatan, a smaller, deadly, and heavily armored capital ship. It was designed with the unique ability to deliver fighters into battle, and fight (something lacking in most Minbari designs). While the previous Tigara-class Attack Cruisers, and Troligan-class Armored Cruisers attempted a similar performance (and were unspectacular) differed radically from both. The Troligans failed because they relied too much upon the ability to actually move the enemy with Gravity Nets (large tractor beams) and weak weaponry. The Troligans were a product of some more ambitious minds and happier times. The Tigaras failed because of a lack of armor (something defiantly not missing on the Troligans), older weapons (deadly if less refined than the vernacular weapons), and poor layout. Since the time of Valen it had been recognized that if the Minbari were to continue on their technological and tactical path then a certain design style would be most beneficial against the Shadows. Lightly armored wings would surround a crew shell. This contraption would quickly orient towards a Shadow target and use its slightly steerable (but powerful) spinal weaponry to delivery as much force as possible to the target * (see "Neshatan System Architecture"). This kind of lance design favored medium and long ranged engagements and showed that when combat came nearer it suffered. The design scheme was abandoned for a more cylindrical and well covered vehicle. While there was a main fin it was smaller than normal do to the large z-plane fan on the rear of the ship and small pods along the hull in out-of-the-way locations. A radical turreted design was used to house scaled down Vikra'boks. Underslung, steerable spinal Fusion Cannons would provide some additional punching power to the Frontal Attack. Close ranges were handled by the 12 whips positioned over the craft (six 400TW and six 350TW) and the two EMP Projectors. The prototype craft was fitted for a compliment of nine Tishats and two Lintira a Flyers (any model) while the production model was slated to be fitted for 11 of a to-be-designed medium or light fighter design that would allow for a greater stand off ability. A small squadron of Nial-class Heavy Fighters could be used but they were rejected as the Star Corsairs believed them very wasteful and too bulky when compared to the much more agile Tishat. The armored hull was a quite ingenious layered design. This armor utilized the traditional crystalline frame at the outer surface but was reinforced by layers of plasteel and robust alloys that shrugged off the kinetic impacts that would shred Sharlins.

Indeed, all looked bright on the eve of the Star Corsairs presenting this design to the Grey Council for approval of a larger building license and a permit to include in the mainline Fleet. The Grey Council of 22249 was not a very happy Council. Tensions and rifts were becoming more apparent and the Religious Caste continued their efforts to re pacify the Warrior Caste. Calls from the Windswords, Star Riders, and other Warrior clans came about in almost every meeting for more ships, more control over production and research, a harsher and more "affirmative" policy with outsiders, and a return to seclusion. The Warriors resented with a mighty passion that elements of the Religious Caste, led namely by Delenn, were creating more frequent contacts and even agreements with outsiders. So, when the Star Corsairs managed to gain an audience with the Grey Council they met with quite unexpected resentment. The Religious Caste opposed the class of ship on several grounds with several motivation s. Their primary concern was keeping the Warrior Caste from gaining too much strength. With a new production run of cheaper ships that were designed strictly as ship-killers for the Younger Races, the Religious Caste feared the presence of the opportunity would be to great a temptation. Also important was the growing disbelief or open mocking of the prophecies of Valen. Most of the Star Corsairs had grown skeptical that the Darkness was upon them from the lack of obvious evidence. Few actually mocked as was the case with the Star Riders but the sour taste lingered in the mouths of Religious Caste. The Neshatan was sought designed with the Shadows in mind, the Star Corsairs fully believed that if the time arose the Sharlins and Shargotis of the Fleet would be more than capable of dealing with the enemy and that the support of the Neshatans would only free them up to do so. This feature received much criticism and condemnation. The Star Riders and Windswords (even if the Windswords did not have a representative in the Warrior Caste's three Satais at the time) were in no mood to allow their power to be diminished so they eagerly agreed with the Religious Caste. The Star Corsairs were informed that the class must under go specified design alterations and so they complied. The final thought in the mind of the scheming Religious Caste faction that was chiefed by Delenn was the awareness of the need to fund the Anla'shok and possibly a space fleet for them if the Warriors proved too stubborn. Funds had to be secured and secreted away and it was a large complaint that the Grey Council seeded tirelessly involved in minor projects that seemed to have no real immediate fruit. Finally, in 2250 the design met approval and the order was placed for a test batch of vessels to be completed at the end of 2251 and early 2252.

Ironically similar to the government interference and economic competition that sabotaged and handicapped the Nova Dreadnoughts, the result of the Program Neshatan was the bungled, clumsy, and quite vulnerable piece of garbage affectionally called the Flying Coffin. The design was over burdened with ten Vikra'bok Cannons, and five, ill-placed, light Fusion Beams. There were no EMP Cannons, and even the architecture for the trademark Tractor Beams were absent. The impositions eliminated any ability to hold fighters and reduced the carried vessels to two Lintira Flyers (Combat model). The ship was compressed into a fat body from the elegant cylinder. The armor was significantly reduced leaving the traditional crystalline and some extra "padding". Wings were attached to the top of the vessel which carried a forward-fixed Vikra'bok and a light Fusion Cannon. The rear of the pod contained the Gravitic Maneuvering Fins and their systems. The aft housed, in a very cramped fashion, the four r rear-fixed Vikra'boks and two light Fusion Cannons. Sandwiched evenly between these systems was the main Gravitic Drive Fin which was needlessly large and might have well been painted with the words "Direct Attacks At This Location." The power plants and distribution system were overcomplicated, insufficient, and sometimes deadly. Unlike the larger Sharlins these Batch 1 Neshatans suffered from severe overheating, and in some cases of the Shadow War the reserved Minbari crew exitted battle nearly naked and drenched with sweat. Test were unimpressive and the batch production was stopped at twenty six.

The Neshatan Batch 1s saw some limited use from that point, culminating in the Shadow War. Most were destroyed promptly by that ancient enemy in the Battle of Coriana 6. Those that remained were rarely used. None saw action in the Minbari Civil War nor did any of the Star Corsairs as they made a point to avoid such vulgar arrogance of the Star Riders. One was entered into a Museum in orbit of Minbar while the remaining nine were slowly scrapped. The last of the Neshatan Batch 1s was scrapped in 2298. The Prototype fought and survived the Shadow War and would have entered into service to fight the Drakh had it not been for the tragic suicide of the ship's commander who took his life, and the crew's, in a still mysterious case durring the opening moments of the Second Battle of the Line.

It would take the Star Corsairs until the end of the 2260s to recover the prestige and wealth they lost on this project. The deficits that the Star Corsairs were pushed into by Government interferrence created a lovely power vacuum for the Windswords and the Star Riders. They used this opportunity to push their agendas such as the Usurpation of 2259, neutrality in the War of Retribution, a much more subdued role in the Shadow War of 2261, the Minbari Civil War of 2261, and the attempted Imposition of 2261. The Star Corsairs used the voice they had left to fully support the Reformation of the Grey Council and provided some assistance to the Windswords along with the Anla'shok in "correcting" their infiltration problem. The Star Corsairs reemerged as a power player in Warrior Caste politics in the 2270s durring the economic boom of the new Worker Caste administration.

Neshatan System Architecture

This is a short addendum proposed by R.Adm. Daryl Cellini, CICEFNI, that, as he specified "tries to add a small note to the history of a neglected but very important Minbari Design"

While the Neshatan, as it was, so the "final" evolution, not the prototype, was not a successful design, very likely because the prototype represented a very hard break off from the classic Minbari tactics and operational doctrine, and was not understood, I want to remark that hers system architecture have left a significant print, or better, a legacy, in the Minbari ship design.

The Neshatan prototype broke the Minbari classic design guidelines (so a bullet-shaped main hull, with the tall gravimetric drive fins placed at the back of the frame) and introduced two design features that later, as we will see, found their place in one of the best ships ever produced.

The Neshatan applied the concept, neglected for long time by the Minbari engineers, of the hybrid propulsion system, so a propulsion that uses, in the same time, both the gravimetric drive and a Newtonin propulsion system - in this case, a couple of fusion plasma rockets in the pods at the wingtips.

Such a system, and such an emplacement, implies that, at the price of an high consumption rate of reaction mass (propellant), allows a significant improvement in the linear acceleration, particularly starting from low speeds, and an improvement of the maneuverability - in the case of the Neshatan, this was visible only in the pivot in respect to the Z axiz, due to the long lever arm allowed by the "wings" that bear the propulsor pods at their tips. The gravimetric drive, used stand alone in all the situations but the ship-to ship combat, retains the benefits of low fuel consumption, long endurance and high hyperspace speed.

The benefits of this system were showed in the Neshatan prototype, but were lost in the series production due to two main factors: the addiction of an anti-kinetic armour layer much thicker than the prototype - non integrated in the structural frame of the hull, and so source of both direct  - its own mass - and indirect - structural reinforcments - mass penalties, the enormous weight penalty of an excessive weapon load, and the installation of a single fin gravimetric drive, that, if has the advantage to be well protected by the body of the ship in a frontal attack, and is even less expensive in respect to the multiple fin arrangements usually applied by the Minbari, has shown an overall lack of power (too small in respect to the mass of the ship), and, as all the single fin arrangements, does nothing to improve the maneuverability (of course, a single fin does not allow to use differential thrust vectors to applay a torque to the ship).

The Sharlin has a single main fin, but the shape of the hull (short and tall in the vertical plan) is such that it protects an enormous fin: a hull like the one of the Neshatan, in which the frontal projection is more "horizontal" would have matched better a double or triple fin arrngement (or quadruple, like the human "waveriders" used in the Nike cruisers, or the Tavari drives used in many Centauri Designs, like Octurion and Primus - seems that the Minbari don't have any trouble in building gravimetric drive arrangements with projectors installed in odd numbers, while almost all the other youger races must use even numbers of projectors).

The interesting point of the Neshatan's architecture is that, all in all, showed some basic advantages that were the guidelines of the excellent Whitestar assault corvette. Let's see what they are:

1 - Overall "horizontal" architecture - improves the maneuverability for the Z-axis pivot.

2 - Bow mounted powerful weapons (spinal) - in this case a classic of the Minbari Architecture - Must be noticed that the power available in the grid and the dimensions of the hull would have allowed the installation of  a single "Nur'Nil'bok" (lone sword) Heavy Neutron cannon and, eventually, a couple of Vikra'Boks to supplement it, instead of the battery of  10 Vikra'Boks: the mass would have been smaller,  and the  effectiveness of the forward facing spinal main battery, thanks to the formidable power of the Nur'Nil'Bok, would have been awesome.

3 - Wingtip mounted weapons, directly fed by the fusion reactors in the nacelles - this allows to eliminate the vulnerable energy capacitors used in the Sharlin and Shargoty fusion cannons, even if the optimal matching  is the one of the Whitestars, that use fusion pulse cannons - and so, a weapon with impressive concussive and good piercing power, instead of  those short ranged gigantic welding torches that are the fusion beams. While actually the Earth Alliance has the technology to build fusion weapons, we have chosen to build heavy fusion pulse cannons, and not fusion beams, and there are very good reasons to support this choice.

4 - Most important - wingtip mounted newtonian engines, with all the advantages in terms of acceleration and maneuverability discussed above.

5 - Elongated shape, reduced frontal section.

6 - A passive defence that includes a more balanced approach to the kinetic offense: the Minbari ships are very vulnerable to the kinetic impacts, the Neshatan iimproves - or tries to improve - this weakness, the Whitestar are a quite tough structural design, capable to survive impacts that would literally tear in pieces much larger Minbari warships.

The six projector arrangement (two large vertical fins, stern mounted, four horizontal gravitic arrays in the wings) of the gravimetric drive used on the Whitestar, and the four fusion plasma rockets (two at the wingtip nacelles, two more coupled in the ventral nacelle) overcome the conceptual bugs of the Neshatan original arrangement, and gives to the well known Anla'shok main unit her exceptional speed and maneuverability.

So, in my opinion, the great merit of the Neshatan is to have "shown the way" of a non conventional and innovative design school among the Minbari, that brought his fruits with the later Whitestars.


Class: Neshatan
Type: Heavy Destroyer
Lenght: 1050 meters
~12g {observed}
Crew: approx. 160
Troops: None.
Fighters: 9 Tishat Medium Fighters and 2 Lintira Flyers (any model).


1*Stalasha Quantum singularity Reactor (unknown model).
2*Stratal'sha Mk.1 Gravitic enhanced fusion reactors (wingtip nacelles).
1*Stalasha  single fin Gravimetric Drive.
1*JumpVortex generators

4*Turreted ~2900TW Vikra'bok Heavy Neutron/antimatter beam cannons.
6*~400TW "Whips" antimatter beam steerable projectors.
6*~300TW "Whips" antimatter beam steerable projectors.
2*~2800TW Fusion Beam Cannons
30*20MTon Missiles, 10 vertical drop-launch tubes with automatic reloading.
2* Electro Magnetic Pulse projectors.

8 to 10 meters of multilayered special alloys/polycrystalline armour.
UNDISCLOSED amount of kinetic resistant armor.
Gravimetric tidal field generated by the propulsion system.
Minbari "stealth" active echoes cancellation system.

2*Gravimetric field directional projectors (tractor beams).

Prototype Neshatan-class Heavy Destroyer

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Class: Neshatan
Type: Assault Destroyer
Lenght: 1300 meters
Acceleration: 4g {observed}
Crew: approx. 200
Troops: None.
Fighters: 2 Lintira Flyers (combat model).

1*Stalasha Quantum singularity Reactor (unknown model).
2*Stratal'sha "Vikra'fi" (green star) Gravitic enhanced fusion reactors (wingtip nacelles).
1*Strath'alsha Mk.IV Monodependent (single fin) Gravimetric Drive.
1*JumpVortex generator.

10*~3500TW Vikra'bok Heavy Neutron/antimatter beam cannons (4 spinal mount forward-fixed, 2 pod mount forward-fixed, 4 spinal mount aft-fixed).
5*~320TW Fusion Beam Cannons (1 spinal mount forward-fixed, 2 pod mount forward-fixed, 2 spinal mount aft-fixed).

6 to 8 meters of multilayered special alloys/polycrystalline armour.
UNDISCLOSED amount of kinetic resistant armor.
Gravimetric tidal field generated by the propulsion system.
Minbari "stealth" active echoes cancellation system.

For some details about the weapons, see "Sharlin Warcruiser"

Neshatan-class Gunboat



This page was written by Mr. Jeremy S. Felts .

I simply added the "Architecture" note and the Drawing. - Of course, any eventual mistake is my responsibility, and mine alone.
To Jeremy, my sincere Thanks and Regards for this good contribution to EFNI.


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