Ablative armor is a type of protective hull plating designed to negate damage by itself being damaged or destroyed through the process of ablation.
History and specifics
Ablative armor was developed by Starfleet in the late 24th century, and was designed to provide an additional layer of defense to starships, which would disintegrate at a controlled rate when under directed energy blasts. (DS9 reference: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual)
One of the first Federation starships to be equipped with ablative armor was the Defiant-class prototype, USS Defiant. Between 2371 and 2375, the ablative armor proved vital in giving the Defiant an added advantage when engaged in conflict with other larger vessels, such as engaging Klingon attack cruisers, and the renegade Excelsior-class vessel, USS Lakota. (DS9 episodes: "The Way of the Warrior", "Paradise Lost")
Following the Battle of Excalbia on stardate 84999.22 in early 2411, which saw the prominent involvement of hero ships from the Federation's past and present, Starfleet refitted the Intrepid class and derived subclasses. They were upgraded to a tier 6 legendary miracle worker multi-mission science vessel status. Every ship of these classes could be fitted with an ablative generator. This included the Intrepid-class warship. (STO website: Legendary Miracle Worker Multi-Mission Science Vessel)
Later that year, the modifications on the USS Trailblazer and ISS Trailblazer in both primary and mirror universes created the Trailblazer-subclass variant of the Pathfinder-class long-range science vessel, also compatible with ablative armor. (STO website: Reflections on Star Trek Online)
Starship classes with in-built ablative armor
Starship classes equipped with ablative generators
- Type-18H shuttlecraft, 2404 (original timeline)
- Intrepid-class, 2377
- Sovereign-class, 2380 (alternate timeline)
- Cochrane-class, 2409
- Discovery-class, 2409
- Bellerophon-class, 2409
- Pathfinder-class, 2410
- Warship Intrepid, 2411
- Trailblazer-class, 2411
- STO - Legacy mission: "Measure of Morality (Part 2)".
- DS9 episode & novelization: The Way of the Warrior.
- VOY episode & novelization: Endgame.
- DS9 - Strange New Worlds 2016 short story: "The Dreamer and the Dream".
- STO - Klingon War mission: "Welcome to Earth Spacedock".
- STO - Delta Rising mission: "Escalation".
- STO website: 10th Anniversary Legendary Starship Bundles.
- STO website: Reflections on Star Trek Online.
- Ablative armor article at Memory Alpha, the wiki for canon Star Trek.
- Ablative Hull Armor article at The Star Trek Online Wiki.