The Mako class fighter is a new innovation in regards to Starfleet thinking. The Federation had long overlooked the need for a fast, small class of fighter, relying on the large size and fire power of the Peregrine class. This would have remained the case if not for the discovery of the Reman Scorpion Class and it's Romulan upgrade, the Scorpion Mark II. The Mark II was capable of warp speeds, and carried shields and more powerful weapons than it's predecessor.
Realising that there was a need to meet this highly manoeuvrable, heavily armed threat, the Federation went back to basics, taking a standard shuttle design, and 'tweaking' it. The new ship was given a tail and wings to give it stability in atmospheric flight, and it was an instant hit with Federation Fighter Pilots, who loved it's sleek lines. The Mako was so named by one of it's designers, who commented that it looked like a shark.
The Mako is extremely heavily armed for a ship it's size. It carries a type VII rapid fire pulse phaser in it's nose, 2 type IV phaser banks built into it's wing tips, and also has a micro photon torpedo launcher in it's rear section, along with a compliment of ten torpedo's. The most unusual aspect of the Maco class is the extra sting hidden in two compartments at the rear of the ship, the doors of which also double as air brakes during atmospheric flight. During space flight, these flaps can open, and two weapons pods will be released which can be controlled by the pilot via a neural interface. These weapons pods are equipped with a type II rapid fire pulse phaser. Following the shark theme, these weapon pods were dubbed Ramora, after the fish which often attach themselves to sharks.
The Mako entered service in 2386, but did not really see action until the war broke out in 2389. The effectiveness of these little ships were instantly apparent. While limited in their effectiveness against a full size Starship, they were far superior to the Scorpion Mark II and at least equal to the Mark III model which followed.
Due to their small size, even non-combat style star ships can comfortably carry at least one wing (five - nine ships) of these fighters in their shuttle bays.
(The Maco class is a manipulation I did using the top half of the delta flyer, and adding wings, tail, belly, and the USS Echo's NCC serial number.)