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A cutter is any type of small spacecraft.
A cutter, like its oceangoing counterpart, may be an auxiliary craft to a larger vessel, or it may be an independent vessel, perhaps used for planetary or system defense.
Pre-warp civilizations may have cutters capable of a maximum speed of one-quarter impulse, but most cutters under the auspices of the United Federation of Planets Starfleet or individual Federation member worlds would be warp-capable.
- The difference between a cutter and clipper, in a spacefaring context, may be one of velocity and not necessarily size of vessel.