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BSG: Is It a Ship, or is It Alive? — The Cylon Raider Breakdown

3 Minute Read
Dec 17 2023

The sharp curve of the Cylon Raider has been the last thing many humans see. We break down the iconic living ship.

In the long years of the human-Cylon war, no ship was as omnipresent as the Cylon Raider. A sleek, deadly craft resembling a flying wing, these ships were a versatile tool in the Cylon’s arsenal.

And by the time the Cylons returned, levying a deadly blow against humanity in a single preemptive strike, the iconic Raider had evolved. It had become a soldier unto itself. A living ship, a biomechanical entity capable of learning through its many deaths, a modern Cylon Raider proved to be dangerous indeed.

Cylon Raider – Original


There were two main configurations for Cylon Raiders. The Cylon War-era Raiders, which were operated by three Centurions piloting under a designated pilot model, were built to handle machine tolerances. It fulfilled its role as a space superiority fighter and dropship with aplomb. It made use of two triple-barrel rotary guns and an allotment of missiles in combat and was heavily armored for a fightercraft.

These crafts were heavily used during the Human-Cylon war, where they were used to great effect. Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) systems allowed them to deploy ground forces during conflicts like the Battle of Tauron. While their coordination via pilot model Centurions meant they could work in tandem with Cylon Basestars to deliver devastating barrages, as they did during the midst of Operation Raptor Talong.

This ship design was so effective that many of the Cylon War-era Raiders were still in active service… until they encountered the Battlestar Galactica, that is.

Modern Raiders – A Living Ship

But the latest model, the modern “RDM” fighter was another matter entirely. The modern Cylon Raider underwent a radical redesign. It took a shape reminiscent of its earlier design, that of a flying wing. But this version was sleeker and had a single module at the center of its body that resembled a Cylon head.


This led many to believe that these new Raiders were wholly mechanical in design, with a Cylon AI controlling it. And given the degree to which the Cylon Raiders fought with practiced efficiency, it was an easy thing to believe. However, the truth was that these crafts were bio-mechanical in nature. Within the armored structure of a Cylon Raider were a number of large organs, including a central brain. Tanks of an oxygen-nitrogen mix were required to feed the biological functions of the ship.

But its nature gave it a significant advantage. Though Raiders were self-aware, like most Cylons, their intelligence level was thought to be more like a trained animal than a humanoid Cylon. Individual Raiders were capable of learning, even past death, as their consciousness would be resurrected in a new “body” if their bodies were destroyed. Which meant that the oldest Raiders kept a continuous line of experience. Some were said to develop a taste for vengeance.

Armed with 2 kinetic energy weapons, as well as a supply of both conventional and nuclear missiles, a Cylon Raider could easily take its vengeance.

The Raiders, like many Cylons lost during the destruction of the great Cylon Colony and bereft of resurrection technology, are assumed to now be extinct.

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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