The Sidewinder is a multipurpose ship manufactured by Faulcon DeLacy. Its versatility and comparatively low price point have made it popular with novice pilots, but the Sidewinder's reputation as an entry-level vessel should not be seen as a sign of inferiority - it is one of the most manoeuvrable ships on the market.
— In-Game Description
The Sidewinder MkI is a ship manufactured by Faulcon DeLacy. The Sidewinder was originally released in 2982 as a light support ship and lacked any jump capability until the advent of the Frame Shift Drive, which was compact enough to allow jump-capable versions to be produced. As a small, inexpensive vessel designed to tackle a variety of roles, including light transport and combat, the Sidewinder is often the first ship that a newly-registered Pilots Federation pilot will fly and own. Its dependability, versatility, and agility combine to make it a useful all-rounder and an excellent choice for green and experienced pilots alike. Some independent navies still use the Sidewinder as fighters and patrol craft, and it is also one of the four vessels permitted in the CQC Championship.
The Sidewinder MkI is a low-cost starter craft given to newly-licensed pilots. In the event that a pilot loses their current ship, they can elect to accept a Sidewinder on loan from the Pilots Federation if they are unable to afford a replacement for the destroyed ship or do not want a replacement.
Although the Sidewinder is cheap, it is not harmless, and is one of the most agile ships available. In particular, it can out-turn most other ships, being topped in that category only by the Eagle MkII and Vulture, and has solid lateral thrust. It is, however, one of the slowest-moving and weakest-hulled ships available. Only the Anaconda and certain dedicated trading ships have slower maximum speeds, and only the Eagle MkII has a weaker hull.
The Sidewinder is therefore an acceptable ship in combat, but lacks firepower. When flying one, using its excellent turning to lock opponents into circling matches, and burning away opposite of the enemy to escape are advised tactics. When fighting a Sidewinder, keep it at range and lay down heavy fire if the current ship cannot outmanoeuvre it, and it should be destroyed quickly; with a ship that can keep up with its turning, close in and blast away, making sure to stay away from its front. While it has terrible damage output, it still beats out Hauler for damage and is better than Type-6 Transporter and Dolphin in combat, due to superior mobility and cheaper price.
As a trader, the Sidewinder has the worst performance of all ships. With a maximum cargo capacity of only 16t, finding trading missions that involve transporting such a small quantity is difficult. It is recommended to instead take up data delivery missions until more spacious options like the Hauler or Adder become affordable. The same drawback applies when attempting to use the Sidewinder as a miner.
With a maximum possible jump range of about 24ly before engineering, the Sidewinder is not a terrible option for exploration and can be a good introduction to the role. However, the Hauler is a superior choice for that purpose due to its much greater jump range, and even early on it costs very little to obtain and outfit as a dedicated exploration vessel.
Overall, the Sidewinder fulfills its purpose as a starter ship perfectly. It is capable in most roles, but is one of the worst choices in each individual role, even when specialised for them. The Sidewinder lets pilots come to grips with what exactly they want to do to earn credits before upgrading to something better, though experienced and wealthy pilots may enjoy keeping one on hand for joyriding.
The Sidewinder's two Class 1 hardpoints are located in front of and just below the cockpit, on the ship's frontal surface. The cockpit itself has only a single pilot seat, and the Sidewinder cannot utilise Multicrew.
The Sidewinder is the cheapest and most common ship on the market. It can be purchased at the vast majority of shipyards, and is the only ship available at Detention Centres.
- Main article: Outfitting
All ships are highly customisable through the Outfitting menu of Station Services. Listed below is the default load-out for the Sidewinder MkI.
|Category||Default System||Default Rating||Default Class||Max Class|
|Small Hardpoint||Pulse Laser (L)||G||1||1|
|Pulse Laser (L)||G||1||1|
|Reactor Bay||Power Plant (L)||E||2||2|
|Thrusters Mounting||Thrusters (L)||E||2||2|
|Frame Shift Drive Housing||Frame Shift Drive (L)||E||2||2|
|Environment Control||Life Support (L)||E||1||1|
|Power Coupling||Power Distributor (L)||E||1||1|
|Sensor Suite||Sensors (L)||E||1||1|
|Fuel Store||Fuel Tank [x2]||C||1||1|
|Internal Compartments||Shield Generator (L)||E||2||2|
|Cargo Rack [x4] (L)||E||2||2|
|Advanced Docking Computer||E||1||1|
|Planetary Approach Suite (H)||I||1||1|
- (L) = Loaned Module
- [x#] = Capacity
- (H) = Requires Elite Dangerous: Horizons, reserved solely for Planetary Approach Suite
- The Sidewinder MkI is equipped with a DeLacy Spin Ionic MV.
- The official Elite Dangerous Player's Guide explains the lore behind why players start with a loaned Sidewinder: "Every player starts as a new member of the Pilots Federation. After being notified of your successful membership a secret benefactor has a transmission delivered to you with a secure code. It gives you access to a starship account that's preconfigured with your credentials. This is how you gain an indefinitely loaned and insured Sidewinder. Behind this windfall is a secret organisation which seeks those with the potential to become real movers and shakers who can mould and shape the galaxy. This gift is a test so they can see whether you have those qualities."
- The Sidewinder MkI length (14.9 m) is similar to a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (15.06 m).
- Larger ships such as Anaconda are capable of carrying a Sidewinder in-universe but this is currently not possible in-game.
- On December 16, 2019, it was reported that the longest total distance travelled by a single Sidewinder was 167,277 LY, a feat accomplished by CMDR RinceWindCymru.