The Barracuda is the Boron staple M3 fighter. It is is a sleek, fast craft with low shielding and small weapon variety (apart from the Plasma Burst Generator). It is often considered to be the least useful M3 available, although they are (to some) some of the best-looking ships around. This Boron fighter is generally outclassed by the Nova, which exceeds it in all statistics except for a slight advantage in speed. The Barracuda is able to use the Ion Disruptor, a weapon which is useful for stripping targets of their equipment. It is also the fastest purchasable M3 ship able to mount the Phased Repeater Gun, a highly accurate and long-range fighter-level weapon. This, combined with its relative high speed allows players to exploit a range advantage against many other M3s.
The Barracuda is a new development to replace the Eel. When the plans for the Barracuda were developed, it was made clear that the Eel was too out-dated. The Barracuda improved on the design with a new power generator. This then allowed for the weaponry to be upgraded and room for slightly increased cargo space and improved acceleration. As the Barracuda is now in service the Eel is no longer supported by the Boron Navy.
The standard Barracuda is a satisfactory fighter at best. It has decent speed, which helps it to intercept the M4s and M5s it generally has superiority over. It has below average shields, a poor laser generator, and average loadout options and cargo capacity.
The Advanced Barracuda improves in almost every way on the standard Barracuda, with improved shielding, speed and laser generators, but at the price of not being able to mount the PBG. Its gains are not as pronounced as the dedicated variants: it is slightly slower than the Raider, but has the shielding of the Sentinel and weapon regeneration and reserves of the Vanguard, whose model it uses. The Advanced Barracuda makes an excellent player ship, and is available in X3:TC to early game players as an ownerless ship.
The Prototype model has respectable performance, bringing it up to similar levels with other M3s. It features even greater speed and the addition of an extra 25MJ shield slot brings its protection up to acceptable standards. It also has improved shield regeneration and has about a 50% larger laser capacity and recharge rate over the standard model, giving it some decent firepower and combat endurance. The Prototype, like the Advanced, improves on the standard Barracuda in almost every way except for lacking the PBG, but the Prototype is more tuned to stand off tactics.
The advantage of the Barracuda Raider is its very high speed for an M3, competitive with many M4s. It is faster than the standard model and has better shield regeneration, but it has half the shielding, significantly inhibiting the Raider's survivability. The Raider is essentially an M4 with enhanced weapons capabilities, but its high cost limits its practical capabilities.
The Sentinel trades the advantages of the original model for improved protection. It can mount an extra shield generator and has slightly improved shield recharge rates. It still has the same poor firepower of the original model, and its lowered speed mitigates the advantage the standard Barracuda had.
The Vanguard version is better than the standard model in nearly every way. It has a very slight reduction in cargo space, but has moderately improved firepower and speed, along with the same shield recharge rates of the Sentinel version.
The Barracuda cannot effectively combat rival M3 ships toe-to-toe, so special tactics should be employed if the player intends to use this ship. The ship makes an excellent user of the Plasma Burst Generator, as the weapon's low power draw mitigates the Barracuda's poor laser generator.
The Advanced Barracuda is available at shipyards only in Albion Prelude. In Terran Conflict, it is available as an ownerless ship. The Prototype variant is not sold in Boron Shipyards.
The Barracuda is one of the few M3s able to mount the Ion Disruptor. It is useful for assisting the player in preparation for boarding operations.