Based on the Type-6 Transporter, the Keelback is a hardy freighter designed for hostile-environment deliveries. The small hardpoints of the Type-6 have been bolstered with two medium hardpoints, but it is the Keelback’s ability to accommodate a fighter bay that really sets it apart. The ship also boasts superior armour and shields to the Type-6, making it a good option for traders who plan to travel without an escort.
— In-game description
The Keelback is a ship manufactured by Lakon Spaceways. Designed as a combat-oriented variant of the Type-6 Transporter, the Keelback boasts enhanced combat capabilities, increased Armour Hardness, and the ability to equip a Fighter Hangar for Ship-Launched Fighters. To support more weapons, it can also mount a larger Power Plant. These improvements reduce the ship's internal compartments and maximum cargo capacity, but allow it to better defend itself against pirate attacks. The Keelback also possesses two additional rotating thrusters that tremendously increase its rolling speed, allowing better maneuverability in combat and smuggling situations. For pilots with a limited budget seeking a versatile cargo ship that can withstand the occasional skirmish, the Keelback is a solid choice.
The Keelback is advertised as a well-armed trader able to haul large cargoes without the need of an escort, similar to the Type-10 Defender. Like the Type-10, the Keelback sacrifices cargo space to improve combat effectiveness, though not nearly to the same degree. In comparison to the Type-6 Transporter, the Keelback has 16t less potential cargo space, a rather large amount in the early game. Combined with its higher cost and lower jump range, the Keelback is a lesser trader than the cheaper Type-6, but it remains more than capable and is still the second best ship at the role in its price range.
In combat, the Keelback retains the two Class 1 hardpoints of the Type-6 and now has two additional Class 2 hardpoints as well. Compared to ships of its price range, such as the Asp Scout and Diamondback Explorer, the Keelback has the lowest damage output of the range. It can easily be outgunned by most ships in its price tier and only has marginally better shielding and armour. However, the Keelback makes up for this with its ability to mount a Fighter Hangar. With the combined firepower of its hardpoints and a Ship-Launched Fighter, the Keelback can easily outperform all ships in its price range in terms of damage output, but this does mean sacrificing a significant amount of cargo space for both the Fighter Hangar and the Shield Generator. Poor maneuverability and speed make the Keelback ineffective at Supercruise interdicting. All in all, the Keelback can make for a good Pirate or Bounty Hunter for a commander looking to utilise fighters and has a decent amount of space for plundered loot.
As an explorer, the Keelback has less jump range than the Type-6 due to its greater mass. Combined with more limited compartment space, the Keelback is a slightly less capable ship in the role than the Type-6.
The Keelback has one role it shines in: mining. With its two medium hardpoints, large cargo space, fighter bay for protection and smaller size the Keelback is one of the best ships available for the job and is by far the cheapest ship that is extremely effective in the role. Due to its small size, many rich pilots can still make good use of the ship for its impressive mining potential. Because fighter hangars make for great protection for a miner, it may even be more appealing than ships such as the Asp Explorer or Federal Dropship.
Overall the Keelback is an adequate multipurpose ship, equally capable of exploration, combat, and trading, but mining is where it capitalizes on its abilities. Compared to similar ships such as the Asp Scout, the Keelback generally does a much better job, but has a much lower jump range.
Two Class 2 hardpoints are located on top of the ship, very close to the cockpit, and two Class 1 hardpoints are located on the bottom of the ship and further back. One of three utility mounts is located on the nose of the ship directly above the frontal landing gear piece, and two more on top and at the back. The interior is almost identical to that of the Type-6, but it has a second pilot seat situated behind the primary seat, making it compatible with Multicrew. The ship also has unique rotating engine pods on either side, but these do not affect the performance of its thrusters,
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- Main article: Outfitting
All ships are highly customisable through the Outfitting menu of Station Services. Listed below is the default load-out for the Keelback.
|Category||Default System||Default Rating||Default Class||Max Class|
|Small Hardpoint||Pulse Laser||F||1||1|
|Reactor Bay||Power Plant||E||4||4|
|Frame Shift Drive Housing||Frame Shift Drive||E||4||4|
|Environment Control||Life Support||E||1||1|
|Power Coupling||Power Distributor||E||3||3|
|Fuel Store||Fuel Tank [16x]||C||4||4|
|Internal Compartments||Cargo Rack [16x]||E||4||5|
|Cargo Rack [16x]||E||4||5|
|Cargo Rack [4x]||E||2||4|
|Cargo Rack [2x]||E||1||2|
|Planetary Approach Suite (H)||I||1||1|
- (L) = Loaned Module
- [#x] = Capacity
- (H) = Requires Elite Dangerous: Horizons, reserved solely for Planetary Approach Suite
- The Keelback was added in the 1.5 Ships update on December 15, 2015.
- At the time the Keelback was announced, before the specifications were revealed, it was speculated that the ship could be a renamed Panther Clipper. David Braben revealed that it was a variant of the Type-6 Transporter with better weapon hardpoints.