The F40 is a stripped down version of the Pinyin sold to the private market; the design lacks the advanced weaponry or FTL capability of a strike fighter but is a sturdy and affordable option for individuals and groups. A number of aftermarket upgrades and variants have made the ship popular beyond its original appeal.
The A-Variant (nicknamed the ‘Stinger’ due to its original operators, the Sand Scorpions) features souped up engines and high rate of fire pulse cannons for lightning raids against under protected convoys and traders.
The F40/B is designed for scouting and recon; mercenaries and pirates typically have one squadron ship outfitted as a B-Variant and use it as a scout and ‘loot sniffer’. The B is even quicker than the A but features thinner armour and no offensive weaponry; guns have been swapped for a variety of lures, micro mines and other devices which can be used to evade or damage pursuers. When operating alone and on low power the B-Variant is small enough to escape notice as it scans and tracks larger ships before reporting back to a main force.
The D-Variant is the so-called ‘stealth’ version; a low sensor-profile is achieved by swapping effective armour for scan-baffling reflective panels and energy shielding. The ship is able to trick most civilian and the cheaper grade of military passive sensors into not ‘seeing’ it. Groups of F40/Ds can either track prey or lie in wait; they only become visible when firing weapons or using engines at full throttle. The simple stealth measures of the variant remove armour and make the ship vulnerable in a straight up dogfight; many D pilots flee when confronted with even lesser foes.
The F40/G (nicknamed ‘Punchdagger’) is one of the rarer variants; it is designed for combat in extremely close quarters. It is the only human ships armed with Wun’Tux ‘Shredder’ cannons; these are usually salvaged from crashed or disabled Twinfang fighters and installed with great care in place of the F40’s pulse cannons. The weapons are almost useless at medium and long ranges; the filament fletchette ammunition is too widely dispersed to be a threat. In close quarters, however, the streams of fire are extremely capable against fighters, light freighters and small capital ships. Punchdagger pilots are though of as daredevils, risk-takers and adrenaline junkies for willing to take on such a dangerous role. Risks are weighed against rewards; the Punchdagger is one of the only non-military ships effective against military fighters and warships – at close range, at least.