Essay:JumpShip distribution

Essay.png BattleTech Essay
Be advised that this BattleTech Essay is based in canonical facts (explicit, inferred, or deduced), but may also contain information that is merely educated guesses and assumptions on the part of the author. It is deemed relevant, informative and in its speculative parts also plausible enough by user consensus to warrant publication in the form of an Essay article.

BattleTech Essays ultimately only represent the viewpoint of the author. As such, BattleTechWiki Essays are not viable references to cite and should be treated as meta-sources.

See also: Category:JumpShip classes


There is little canonical data regarding the total number of JumpShips operating in the Inner Sphere, or what classes even exist in which numbers. This Essay seeks to demonstrate that available information suggests the following distribution ratio by class to be (roughly) accurate for the Inner Sphere as a whole in the late Succession Wars era, i.e. around the year 3025:

(Tramp (apprently the most numerous minor class), Leviathan (possibly the second-most numerous minor class), Liberty, Uma, and other classes)

This list does not include WarShips, the ComStar-exclusive Magellan, and JumpShips without docking collars such as the Explorer, Quetzalcoatl, and any primitive vessels predating the introduction of the docking collar. However, even if these were factored in they would probably all be so rare as to fall into the "other classes" category and not significantly change the overall ratios.

(Specifically regarding primitive JumpShips, it was noted that they became "essentially extinct" less than four decades after the introduction of the JumpShip Hardpoint/K-F Boom Docking Collar.[1])


The Invader is the most numerous class, and the only one with a stated ratio: 46% of all registered JumpShips are Invaders. Its frequency of sighting is rated "Common", as is the case for one other class, the Merchant; one class is "Uncommon", two are "Rare", and none is described as "Unique". Since other classes positively do exist, this suggests that the frequency of sighting for all other classes is no better than the "Unique" rating (which is demonstrably not to be taken literally but rather translates as "very rare", see below). Those other JumpShip classes are collectively called the "minor" classes for the purpose of this essay, as opposed to the five dominant "major" classes.

For the purpose of this essay, it is assumed that each frequency of sighting tier is roughly three times as numerous as the next one.
Thrice was determined to be the most plausible tier step because at twice, it would be too hard to justify the Invader and Merchant being in the same tier, and at four times or more, the "Uncommon" and especially the "Rare" classes would be marginalized to the point where grouping them into different tiers would be equally hard to justify; similarly, the Monolith and Star Lord could then hardly be counted among the major classes anymore, of which there would then only be three. This effectively rules out the initial urge to treat the tiers as orders of magnitude, i.e. a factor of ten: Only 0.4% – or one out of 250 JumpShips – could then be a Star Lord or Monolith, and minor classes would have to be rarer still by a factor of at least ten.

Despite sharing the "Common" tier, the Invader must vastly outnumber even the Merchant, the sole other "Common" design, in order for the tiers to remain meaningful overall. Consequently, it was disregarded as an outlier, and the remaining 54% of all JumpShips would therefore be divided thusly: 9 parts "Common" Merchant, 3 parts (i.e. one-third as many) "Uncommon" Scout, 1 part (one-third as many again) each for the "Rare" Star Lord and Monolith, and finally 1 part for all other minor classes combined. This computes as altogether 15 parts across 54% and results in a ballpark distribution ratio of 32.4% (Merchant), 10.8% (Scout), 3.6% (Star Lord), 3.6% (Monolith), and 3.6% (minor classes combined).

The Star Lord class is consistently described as easier to acquire than the Monolith in different rulebooks, though both are considered "Rare". The exact distribution given varies, but based on acquisition target numbers the former is generally 1.5 to 2 times easier to acquire than the latter, assuming a sufficiently solvent buyer. This would suggest they are on opposite ends of the "Rare" tier range. It thus seems reasonable to round down the number of Monoliths to 3% and push the Star Lord to 5%. However, while the Monolith is the rarest of the five major JumpShip classes, it must still outnumber the minor classes by at least one if not two tiers.

The Scout and Merchant were simply rounded to 11% and 32%, respectively.

The Tramp is implied to be the most numerous minor design by far, so it seems reasonable to put it one tier below the Monolith, at around 1%. Of the other minor designs, only the Leviathan was mentioned (once) in a context suggesting it was still operating in somewhat notable numbers in 3025, so by conjecture it might be the second-most numerous minor class after the Tramp.


General Data[edit]

  • DropShips and JumpShips (1988) is known in-universe as the "declassified ComStar Intelligence Summary FB-60" document that was declassified and published in 3025. While it may be the most important, and most detailed, single source on the subject matter, its accuracy was called into question: Technical Readout: 3057 Revised, an in-universe document compiled by WolfNet in 3067, remarks in its preface that ComStar's declassified FB-60 document (i.e. DropShips and JumpShips) was found to contain numerous errors or possibly deliberate misinformation.
    (Out of universe, this was presumably done to explain changes in the stats of several ships classes that had to be made due to changes in the construction rules, and thus wouldn't necessarily extend to the fluff text examined here.)
  • As of 3025, the Scout, Merchant, Invader, Star Lord, and Monolith classes comprise "the five major types of JumpShips currently operating in the Inner Sphere",[2] or those "most commonly found operating in and among the Successor States".
  • All of the named five major JumpShip classes are still being built in at least three Successor States each (the Invader in all five).[3] There is no manufacturing data for the periphery, though the overall impression is that no significant JumpShip production was taking place outside of the Inner Sphere.
  • The total annual JumpShip production throughout the Inner Sphere as of ca. 3025 was only about 30-50 hulls.[3]
  • As of ca. 3025, "more than a dozen JumpShip designs" are known to be still in existence.[4]
  • The Explorer Corps fleet, as of ca. 3058, comprised of around 60% Invaders, 25% Scout and Merchant class combined, and "a wide range of other designs" for the remaining 15% (including the purpose-built Magellan class). It was expressly said that Monolith, Star Lord and Leviathan class vessels are not used by the Explorer Corps.[5]
  • As of 3058, a Magellan modified beyond recognition into an unidentifiable merchant JumpShip with (only) one docking hardpoint was supposed to be inconspicuous enough to be a good cover for a covert operation.[6]
  • As of ca. 3025, the number of operable JumpShips in the Inner Sphere had supposedly been constant at around 2,000 for decades, with "only about a dozen new JumpShips produced each year among all the Successor Houses".[3] Later, Mercenaries Handbook 3055 claimed that, as of 3055, some 3,000 JumpShips roam the Inner Sphere; production reportedly increased after the discovery of the Helm Memory Core.[7] Strategic Operations clarifies that the actual number must be higher by an order of magnitude or two,[8] but does not offer concrete numbers.
  • In the Lyran Commonwealth, the Bolson Shipyards had been a major producer of JumpShips for the LCAF, as well as freighters and pleasure craft for the private sector. It wasn't specified what classes of JumpShips had been built there. The shipyard was destroyed in 2787.[9]
  • The First Succession War cut the Lyran Commonwealth's JumpShip production abilities by 95%.[10]
  • In the 'Mech Unit Creation rules in the (1986) MechWarrior RPG rulebook,[11] set around the year 3025, a player-run unit – be it a House unit or a mercenary unit – automatically gets to roll for possession of a JumpShip if the unit has at least one DropShip, which is the case on a 2d6 roll of 2-8 for lance-sized units, 2-10 for units two lances in size, 2-11 for company-sized units, and automatically if the unit is battalion size or larger. The "JumpShip Status" roll of 2d6 has higher success probability as the unit size grows, and the JumpShip is scaled accordingly: A lance will get a Scout or Merchant on a roll of 2-5; two lances will get an Invader or Merchant on 2-6; a company will get an Invader on 2-7; a battalion will get an Invader or Monolith on a 2-10; and a regiment will get a Monolith on a 2-11. (The Star Lord class is notably absent from the table.)
  • In the 1988 DropShips and JumpShips rulebook[12] the acquisition of a DropShip or JumpShip is described a major undertaking; but at the same time it is nevertheless possible to acquire any of the five major JumpShip classes–including namely the Monolith–even for relatively small units, if they can afford the price. Players must first generate leads to possibly available vessels with a 2d6 roll once per month resulting in 1-2 leads on average, depending on "Diplomacy" skill, then follow up on individual leads with a second roll to get a chance to actually buy a ship. Scout, Merchant and Invader class JumpShips will become available on a 2d6 roll of 9+; a Star Lord on a 10+; and a Monolith on a 11+. For JumpShips, the target numbers are -1 for salvage-quality vessels and +1 for non-functional vessels. The rolls for leads can result in modifiers to the second roll. The costs for new (i.e. non-salvage fully functional) vessels are given as 300, 400, 500, 750 and 1,000 million C-bills respectively, 40% that for salvage quality vessels, or 20% for destroyed (non-functional) vessels.
    For comparison, new Fortresses (800 million C-bills) and Behemoths (2,000 million C-bills) are only available on 12+, i.e. harder to obtain than a Monolith, while Excalibur, Achilles, Vengeance and Mammoth DropShips are all 11+ like the Monolith.
  • The JumpShip acquisition rules in Mercenary's Handbook 3055, p. 82, postulate that a unit may only attempt to acquire a JumpShip once during creation. The unit must spend a flat fee of 15 million C-bills on attempting a JumpShip Acquisition Roll (which fails on 1-3, and thus has a 50% chance to succeed; the result table goes up to 9 but does not explain how a 1d6 roll can result in more than 6. A result of 9 means the second roll is made with 2d6 instead of only 1d6). In case of success, a second roll is required to determine if the desired vessel is available for purchase; this will usually be a 1d6 roll. The target number on this 1d6, which is decreased by 1 for every additional 6 million C-bills spent on the Acquisition Roll (which does not improve the 50% chance of success in the first place), is 8 for a Scout, 9 for a Merchant, 10 for an Invader, 11 for a Star Lord and 12 for a Monolith. Acquisition is an all-or-nothing roll during creation; if successful, the unit owns the JumpShip (there is no buying price involved). This is because the unit creation rules assume the unit being created for the players is not created from scratch, but has been existing for some time already at the beginning of the game.
  • As of ca. 3055, it is "still uncommon to find any individual or organization in the Inner Sphere, other than a ruling House or a large corporation, that owns its own JumpShip. On occasion, however, a fortunate mercenary unit can obtain one."[13] JumpShips cannot normally be bought on the open market.[14]
  • (The AeroTech and AeroTech 2 rulebooks offer no information about the proliferation of JumpShip classes.)

Data by JumpShip Class[edit]



  • Relative "Frequency of Sighting" rating: "Common"[16]
  • Known production sites:
    • As of ca. 3025:
      • Stellar Trek[3] (Chatham, Draconis Combine)
      • Rashpur-Owens, Inc.[3] (Capella, Capellan Confederation)
      • Ioto Galactic Enterprises[3] (Gibbs, Lyran Commonwealth; no actual manufacture of new drive cores but a repair facility building ships with Star League-era KF cores from a supply depot; drive core supply "dwindling" by 3054[17])
      • Although the Free Worlds League isn't mentioned as a current producer of the Merchant class as of ca. 3025, unlike the Draconis Combine, Capellan Confederation and Lyran Commonwealth,[3] it is also noted that the Free Worlds League's output of Merchant and Explorer JumpShips was "second to none" at one point.[18]
  • The Merchant is one of the oldest designs still in use,[19] or even one of the oldest JumpShip designs (period).[13]
  • The Merchant is the second-smallest JumpShip still in use (after the Scout);[19] this is ignoring the Explorer class which doesn't have docking hardpoints and wasn't yet written into canon when JumpShips and DropShips was published).
  • Around 40% of all Merchant-class JumpShips are thought to operate within the borders of the Lyran Commonwealth as of 3025.[19]
  • The Merchant class is the mainstay of trader fleets throughout known space.[20]


  • Relative "Frequency of Sighting" rating: "Common"[21]
  • Known production sites:
  • As of ca. 3054, the Rashpur-Owens shipyards build a single Invader annually.[23]
  • The Invader class is the most common JumpShip operating in the Successor States.[24]
  • The Invader class is "reliably estimated" to account for some 46% of all registered JumpShips in the Inner Sphere as of 3025.[24] This still holds true by 3055[13] and 3056 ("slightly more than 45% of all registered JumpShips").[25]
    • Nearly 51% of all known Invader-class vessels in the Inner Sphere are operated by the Great Houses' militaries, 32% by merchants, and 17% by mercenaries as of 3025.[24] These ratios haven't changed as of 3055.[13] A 3056 report[25] states that state armies and mercenaries between them use roughly 70% of the existing Invaders.
  • The Invader is the design most commonly used by Inner Sphere armies[13] (even though, unlike others, it is not considered a primarily military design).

Star Lord[edit]

  • Relative "Frequency of Sighting" rating: "Rare"[26]
  • Known production sites:
  • Around 40% of all Star Lord-class JumpShips are thought to operate in the Free Worlds League as of 3025.[28]
  • As of 3025, two Star Lord per year are built in the Free Worlds League and one in the Draconis Combine.[28] No number is given for the Federated Suns who are supposedly also building the design.[3]
  • The Star Lord is more common among the Clans than in the Inner Sphere.[29]
  • Notably expensive to purchase and maintain.[13]


  • Relative "Frequency of Sighting" rating: "Rare"[30]
  • Known production sites:
  • Around half of all Monolith-class JumpShips are thought to operate in the Draconis Combine; roughly equal (but unspecified) numbers operate in the Federated Suns and the Free Worlds League, respectively, as of 3025.[32]
  • As of 3025, the Draconis Combine is no longer able to produce the Monolith class[32] and the same is thought to be the case for the Free Worlds League who used to build one every two years "until recently",[32] while the Federated Suns build two every three years.[32] At the same time, there are three Free Worlds League facilities–namely the shipyards at Clipperton, Tamarind and Loyalty–that are considered capable of producing a Star Lord or Monolith as of ca. 3025.[33] (The Free Worlds League and the Draconis Combine are not listed as manufacturers of the Monolith class, but the Lyran Commonwealth and Capellan Confederation are, without production numbers given.[3])
  • According to ComStar's CIS FB-60 document, only a few dozen Monolith-class vessels still operate in the Inner Sphere as of ca. 3025, and the class "is found exclusively within the armies of the Successor States",[32]; according to Technical Readout: 3057, as of January 3057 Monoliths were "only operated by the militaries of the Successor States and Clans", and "less than fifty vessels remain in the armies of the Successor States."[34].
  • Synguard Corporation, a medium-sized mercantile corporation, was mentioned to operate three Monoliths as of ca. 3025.[35]


  • The Tramp class was eventually phased out in favor of the Star Lord, but found considerable success in the wilder parts of the periphery in its time.[36] It is inferred that the Tramp was not in production around 3025, but most Tramp class vessels implicitly operate in the periphery, beyond the scope of ComStar's FB-60 document which is concerned with the situation in the Inner Sphere (and not the periphery). When production was re-started, eleven ships were built between ca. 3046 and 3052, i.e. almost two per year, and three more between ca. 3055 and 3057, with no production in the years in-between (because of a technical problem).[36]
  • Between its introduction in 3056 and 28 January 3057, two vessels of the all-new Chimeisho class were built at the Izumi JumpShips yard at Altair.[37]
  • By 3058, the purpose-built Magellan, which was used almost exclusively for the Explorer Corps, nevertheless still made up only a fraction of those 15% of Explorer Corps JumpShips that weren't of Scout, Merchant or Invader class.[5]


  • While the CIS FB-60 document does make use of a fourth "Frequency of Sighting" rating, "Unique", in its DropShips section, it only discusses the aforementioned five JumpShip classes, and considers none of them any rarer than "Rare". It follows that existing numbers of vessels in other JumpShip classes are so small that they fall below the "Rare" or even "Unique" threshold.
    (For comparison, among DropShips, "Rare" is applied to the Overlord and Intruder, among others, while the Avenger, Achilles and Fortress are all described as "Unique". This establishes that "Unique" isn't meant literally and should merely be read as "very rare" instead, as the document itself discusses several individual DropShips for each "Unique" entry.)
  • 46% of all JumpShips are Invaders. 68% of these are operated by House militaries, mercenaries or private citizens while only 32% of these, i.e. 14.72% of all existing JumpShips, are operated by corporations or merchants. To be the "mainstay" of trader fleets, the Merchant class only needs to outdo this number with Merchant class merchant vessels. (The Scout class, being the next-rarest JumpShip class, is described as mostly a military vessel and a poor choice commercially.)
  • The Merchant class is only "one of the oldest designs", but not "the" oldest design. This implies there is at least one class still in use that is yet older.
  • There is conflicting information on the relative numbers of Monolith-class JumpShips. ComStar's CIS FB-60 document from 3025 claims that only a few dozen Monolith-class vessels still operate in the Inner Sphere, and that this class "is found exclusively within the armies of the Successor States".[32] Monoliths were "only operated by the militaries of the Successor States and Clans", and "less than fifty vessels supposedly remain in the armies of the Successor States" as of January 3057, according to Technical Readout: 3057.[34] However, in the same timeframe several mercenary commands including Wolf's Dragoons and the Northwind Highlanders have been known to own and operate such vessels, and even the medium-sized Synguard Corporation had three 'Monoliths which was not treated as particularly noteworthy.[35] JumpShip acquisition rules do not suggest the class to be particularly rare either. Finally, a proliferation rating of Rare instead of Unique, combined with ongoing production and being named among the five major types of JumpShips (out of at least a dozen) strongly suggests that ComStar, for some reason, ignored or omitted a significant number of existing Monoliths in their CIS FB-60 and TRO: 3057 reports. It could be speculated that the lion's share of Monoliths is actually operated by ComStar themselves, in which case their somewhat misleading obvervations regarding the design's proliferations would technically be true when one assumes they refer to other factions besides ComStar.
  • As of ca. 3058 the Leviathan is listed (besides the Monolith and Star Lord) as a ship class that the Explorer Corps does not make use of.[5] That the authors of the document (ComStar) would expressly mention it beside the other two vessels seems to indicate that the Leviathan class, albeit obsolete, was by no means extinct or unique in the sense of only a handful of relics remaining, and makes it the second "minor" JumpShip class mentioned in a way that suggests it still exists in some numbers.


  1. XTRO: Primitives III, p. 17 (Prototype JumpShip Docking Hardpoint)
  2. DropShips and JumpShips, p. 3
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 DropShips and JumpShips, p. 15
  4. DropShips and JumpShips, p. 16
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Explorer Corps, p. 17
  6. See the description of the Persephone in the Living Legends adventure
  7. Mercenaries Handbook 3055, p. 23
  8. Strategic Operations, p. 250, "External Communication"
  9. House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth) , p. 46 - "The Bolson Shipyards"
  10. House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth), p. 53
  11. MechWarrior, p. 25
  12. DropShips and JumpShips, Operations Manual section, p. 38
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 Mercenary's Handbook 3055, p. 23
  14. Mercenary's Handbook 3055, p. 82
  15. DropShips and JumpShips, p. 17
  16. DropShips and JumpShips, p. 19
  17. Objective Raids, p. 81
  18. House Marik (The Free Worlds League), p. 114
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 DropShips and JumpShips, p. 18
  20. BattleSpace - Sourcebook, p. 52 - Merchant
  21. DropShips and JumpShips, p. 21
  22. Handbook: House Davion, pp. 166, 167
  23. Objective Raids, p. 143
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 DropShips and JumpShips, p. 20
  25. 25.0 25.1 BattleSpace - Sourcebook, p. 52 - Invader
  26. DropShips and JumpShips, p. 23
  27. Objective Raids, p. 176
  28. 28.0 28.1 DropShips and JumpShips, p. 22
  29. Technical Readout: 3057, p. 106
  30. DropShips and JumpShips, p. 25
  31. Objectives Raids, p. 68
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 DropShips and JumpShips, p. 24
  33. House Marik (The Free Worlds League), p. 114
  34. 34.0 34.1 Technical Readout: 3057, p. 108 - Monolith class entry
  35. 35.0 35.1 MechWarrior (1st Edition), p. 109
  36. 36.0 36.1 Technical Readout: 3057, p. 104 - Tramp class entry
  37. Technical Readout: 3057, p. 102 - Chimeisho class entry