Certain echelons in Starfleet Command have time and again doubted the relevance of the "snubfighter". Fighters in the Starfleet order of battle have been neglected in past decades - "Glorified shuttlecraft", as one critic noted. However, low intensity conflicts like the Zekti Crisis of 2265 thoroughly reinforced the need for such a vessel. Proponents in the Starfleet "fighter mafia" argued that conventional shuttlecraft would be outgunned and outmaneuvered in certain environments. Thus the Coyote fighters of the era pressed on for several years while its planned successor commenced development in 2267.
Despite a protracted development phase and a costly redesign in 2279, the 2280's saw the introduction of the Wraith Class fighter. Smaller, lighter and leaner, the Wraith was by all accounts, a thoroughly modern multirole machine. Design wise, the Wraith was a vast improvement from its predecessor. The aggressive looking spaceframe offered twice the firepower thanks to breakthroughs in microphoton torpedo development. But most importantly, it had achieved integrated warp capability, which drastically extended operational range.
This alone expanded the Wraith's ease of deployment in non-carrier assets such as starbases and other starships. A full squadron could be operated from a typical starbase or two examples could be stored aboard a Constitution Class cruiser. Maintenance of the Wraith was an area thoroughly assessed by its designers. Simplified and taking advantage of swappable internal modules, it had 40% less moving parts compared to the Coyote.
Over the years of its service, the Wraith Class boasted the record for Starfleet's longest serving fighter design. Its impeccable flying capabilites and forward thinking design allowed the creation numerous upgrades and notable variants like the Wraith Block Gamma of 2330. The Wraith Class arguably ensured the survival of the "snubfighter" in trying times and its legacy paved the way for the Peregrine and Valkyrie Classes that followed.
Churchill by Anarion, model by Fireball
BG by bloknayrb and Atlus