Navigation computer equipped
300 metric tons
Imperial starships had long focused on ship-to-ship combat capabilities, relegating smaller capital ships to planetary defense rather than picket duty. As Rebel Alliance pilots learned to exploit the major weaknesses of Star Destroyers, commonly called "Trench Run Disease", Imperial officers grew increasingly concerned over the growing relative effectiveness of these heavily-armed and shielded starfighters. After the first Death Star's destruction at the Battle of Yavin by a handful of Alliance starfighters, the need for greater starfighter defense was clear.
Admiral Drez proposed using the KDY Lancer-class ships to screen enemy starfighters to allow dominant Star Destroyers to pummel enemies in ship-to-ship combat. This was then approved by the Imperial Naval Command. The final iteration of the craft ran a slim 250 meters with twenty quad laser cannon batteries designed specifically for starfighter hunting, but required a relatively large crew of 850, however this came at cost of having no capital grade weaponry or shielding, leaving the ships vulnerable to other capital ships. The ship was also quite slow, allowing many fighters to simply outrun it.
The Imperial Starfleet found the Lancer-class too expensive for full fleet deployment. A few frigates made it into various fleets, but most admirals preferred to use, and subsequently lose, their TIE starfighters as anti-starfighter options. As a result, most Lancer-class frigates, like smaller ships before them, were assigned to planetary defense and rear guard operations.
It was not until the emergence of Grand Admiral Thrawn in 9 ABY that Lancer-class frigates were put to good use. Thrawn used the frigates in raiding missions against key New Republic worlds, where they used their laser cannons to slice through the New Republic’s starfighter-based planetary defenses.
As the remnants of the Empire collapsed and the New Republic defeated the remaining aggressive warlords, a number of Lancer-class frigates were captured by the New Republic Defense Fleet. While the Defense Fleet incorporated some into planetary defense fleets, most were decommissioned, although the design principles of the Lancer-class were revisited when the New Republic developed the Ranger-class gunship.
This class may have been named after the lancer cavalry soldiers, seeing as they both served a similar purpose in delivering the initial blow to enemy units.