The Akira-class was a class of Federation starship that was in service with Starfleet by the early 2370s. Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards was one of the sites this class was constructed at in 2371. (VOY: "Relativity")
As well, several were involved in most of the major battles of the war. In 2374, they saw action during Operation Return and the First Battle of Chin'toka, where at least two ships of the class were destroyed by orbital weapon platforms. (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Sacrifice of Angels", "Tears of the Prophets")
- USS Thunderchild (NCC-63549)
- TNG films:
A design sketch of the USS Akira shows the vessel bearing the registry NCC-2497. In an unpublished interview with author Larry Nemecek, designer Jaeger said he simply used the four-digit number of his then-phone extension for that registry; to conform to Starfleet practice, the number "6" was added by Mike Okuda and the film's art department to make "62497," a number then approved by producer Rick Berman. At the same time, Jaeger said, two other ship names and registries were approved as back-ups, if needed, to the USS Thunderchild actually seen on film as NCC-65549: the USS Rabin (named after former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) as NCC-63293, and the USS Spector (NCC-63549). The ship scale sheet showing the back-up names and registries can be found on John Eaves' blog.
Neither of the latter ships ever appeared on screen, although the CGI file used for the Akira-class seen in the Voyager episode "Message in a Bottle" was numbered NCC-63549, ostensibly the Spector, and was used by the Star Trek Fact Files. The ship allegedly appeared in one of the battle scenes from the sixth and seventh seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but this has not been verified.
Responsible for the look of four new ship classes, introduced in First Contact, Alex Jaeger commented on the ships he designed for that movie, "the main reason they look really different is that from a distance, the producers wanted them to be completely new looks, because we introduced a new Enterprise in the film and didn't want it to get lost." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, page 48)
The Akira-class was one of those four new classes designed by Jaeger at Industrial Light & Magic in 1996, and was inspired by the Miranda-class and the Klingon Bird-of-Prey designs. It was named after the Japanese animated film Akira. (Star Trek Encyclopedia)
In parts of his Nemecek interview that were published in Star Trek: The Magazine, designer Alex Jaeger stated that he created the Akira as a sort of "carrier/gunship," armed with fifteen torpedo launchers. Visual inspection of the hull and design drawings show all fifteen: ten on the ships weapons pod, one forward torpedo launcher over the deflector dish and also four flanking torpedo launchers on the saucer.
He further stated in his July 1999 "Designing the Akira-class" interview, appearing on page 48 of the Star Trek: The Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 3, "This was my gunship/battlecruiser/aircraft carrier. It has 15 torpedo launchers and two shuttlebays – one in front, with three doors, and one in the back. I really got into it with this one, with the whole idea that the front bay would be the launching bay, and then to return they'd come into the back, because they'd be protected by the rest of the ship."
In June 2009 Jaeger commented about the overall design of the Akira-class on the web blog of Doug Drexler:
"Set nestled between the catamaran split secondary hulls the bridge is nicely protected. Just on either side of the bridge in a notch on top of the secondary hulls are the shield generators. This further protects the command unit of the ship since one of its duties is launching smaller craft, communication protection is a must. At the back of the bridge there are emissary docking hatches and just below that the circular hatch is the captain's lifeboat. The rear view at the back of the saucer is the main shuttle bay and shuttle control center. This area is also well protected tucked down between the hulls and below the weapons pod flanked by the Nacelles. This serves as a safe haven for the smaller craft in a fire fight and a calm entry point. Also in this protected center region are most of the sensor arrays for the transporters and communications with the remainder of the sensors atop the weapons pod. Moving forward the notch in the front of the saucer is the forward launch bay doors(3). This is for the fast exit of small craft into battle. There are extra shield generators on either side of this notch as this would be a target for enemy ships. Surrounding most of the saucer section is the phaser array strip. Also on the saucer there are flanking torpedo launchers. At the rear of the saucer are the impulse engines. Underneath is the deflector dish, 2 flanking phaser arrays and a forward facing torpedo launcher. You'll also notice that the Akira class utilizes the escape pods from the Sovereign Class, but the panel details more like the Galaxy class. That's because I imagined this ship was commissioned right before the "E" and served as a testbed for the new escape pods. At the rear is the weapon's pod with spreads of both photon and quantum torpedo launchers. And of course the warp nacelles. This overall design makes for a much more narrow side profile and a more friendly crew environment as the engineering folks are no longer in 'the bowels' of the ship :) Also the crew get a better view of their own ship as the split hull allows for more windows and a view of the bridge, something that's not very common in the previous ship designs."
This design was further notable as an inspiration for Doug Drexler's design of the Enterprise NX-01, the central ship of the fifth Star Trek series, of the same name. In defending the NX class, and contrasting the two designs, Star Trek scenic artist Geoffrey Mandel, stated that "while the Akira is a rather ugly, bowlegged vessel from some angles, the NX-01 is streamlined and elegant, and looks good from almost any angle. Having been around then, I also know that [the NX-class designer] Doug Drexler and John Eaves did exactly what the producers asked them to." 
Jaeger's design, being an early favorite of the producers, was quickly approved and Jaeger proceeded to produce blueprints for the modelers at ILM who had to build and map the CGI model. Orthographic views and wire meshes of their model have been published in Star Trek: The Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 3, page 49 and 51. A year later ILM was requested by Paramount to hand over their models made for First Contact, amongst them the Akira, to Digital Muse in preparation for use in the upcoming DS9 episode "Sacrifice of Angels". Due to software differences, the model had to be largely rebuilt in LightWave 3D and was remapped at a higher resolution in the process, but was completed early enough to be already showcased in "Call to Arms".
A foam core camera test model used for Star Trek: First Contact was sold in January 2009 in a It's A Wrap! sale and auction for $86.85 and is one of the few physical representations of the class constructed by the production staff. 
The scale of the CGI mesh, according to a January 20, 1998 post in the newsgroup alt.tv.star-trek.ds9, by DS9 Visual Effects Supervisor David Stipes, was 860 feet or 262.13 meters, the length used when he blocked shots in DS9.  However, the measurement used by Visual Effects Supervisor Gary Hutzel, according to an in-house chart dated 5/15/98, was 840 feet.
According to a size chart of Alex Jaeger, the Akira-class would be roughly 500 meters in length.
The following information of specifications and defenses comes exclusively from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual:
- Production Base: ASDB Integration Facility, Antares Fleet Yards, Antares IV.
- Type: Heavy Cruiser.
- Accommodation: 500 officers and crew; 4,500 personnel evacuation limit.
- Power Plant: One 1,500 plus Cochrane warp core feeding two nacelles; one impulse system.
- Dimensions: Length, 464.43 meters; beam, 316.67 meters; height, 87.43 meters.
- Mass: 3,055,000 metric tonnes.
- Performance: Warp 9.8 for 12 hours.
- Armament: Six type-10 phaser emitters; two photon torpedo launchers.
- The Decipher role-playing games supplement Starships lists several Akira-class starships, including USS Geronimo (NCC-62501), USS Osceola (NCC-62743), USS Black Elk (NCC-62878), USS Nez Perce (NCC-62891), USS Mateo (NCC-63002), USS Red Cloud (NCC-63306), and USS Susquehanna (NCC-63419).
- The Activision PC game Star Trek: Bridge Commander includes the USS Devore (NCC-64088), USS Geronimo (NCC-69302), and USS Kali.
- The Activision PC game Star Trek: Armada includes the USS Jupiter (NCC-71267) and USS Templar, as well as many others. In both this game and the sequel, Star Trek: Armada II, these vessels have an advanced weapon called the "chain reaction pulsar" which bounces a bolt of energy off of enemy shields, damaging several ships consecutively. The Jupiter was also a promotional card for the Star Trek Customizable Card Game, where it was listed as being "under the command of Captain Satelk."
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Dominion Wars includes the USS Singh.
- Star Trek: Away Team includes the USS Leyte Gulf (NCC-71427).
- The USS Sentinel mentioned in DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" is described as an Akira-class starship that Lt. Commander Sonya Gomez served on during the Dominion War, according to Pocket SCE: War Stories, Book 1.
- The Millennium novel The Fall of Terok Nor mentions two Akira-class starships, the USS Bondar and the USS Garneau, both named after Canadian astronauts.
- The Akira-class starship USS Gryphon features heavily in the DS9 Relaunch novels.
- The Akira-class is featured in the game Star Trek: Starfleet Command III, where it is classified as a heavy cruiser.
- The Xbox 360/PC game Star Trek: Legacy allows control of Akira-class ships as cruisers with names such as USS Akira, USS Spector, USS Rabin, and USS Thunderchild.
- The Akira-class is featured in Star Trek Online as a Commander level heavy escort. A slightly more powerful "refit" version is available as the "Thunderchild-class" which includes a point defense system. A second refit version, the "Armitage-class" is available at the Vice Admiral rank and is meant to pay homage to the designer's plans for the ship with a torpedo point defense system, and a fighter bay.
- Akira-class ship names from Starfleet Command III:
- USS Akira
- USS Aquino
- USS Begin
- USS Cristiani
- USS Galtieri
- USS Gorbachev
- USS Grant
- USS Kennedy
- USS Kravchuk
- USS Landsbergis
- USS Lincoln
- USS Mitterand
- USS Ramos
- USS Reagan
- USS Shamir
- USS Shevardnadze
- USS Sihanouk
- USS Thatcher
- USS Thunderchild
- USS Yeltsin
- Designing the Akira-class at Federation Starship Datalink
- Template:Exastris - contains detailed notes and articles on the Akira-class
- Akira class at Wikipedia
- Akira Class Technical Manual (fan wiki on the Akira Class Starship)
- The CGI model of the Akira-class at Doug Drexler's private blog