The Federation and the Empire each run a naval auxiliary. It is possible for an independent pilot to earn ranks in these auxiliary organisations in order to unlock system permits, engineers, and of course, ships. It is the ships which drive most people to seek these ranks, so here are the details of the rank required for each restricted ship.
The following ships are restricted to members of the Federal auxiliary:
The following ships are restricted to members of the Imperial auxiliary:
In order to see what rank you have right now, go to your right panel, on the status tab, second section down. Underneath the information about the local “Power” you will see information about your status with each of the Superpowers.
It’s the bottom part of this information we are most interested right now. These are the rank and the progress bars for the Federation and Empire (note that the Alliance does not operate a Naval Auxiliary and thus does not have ranks).
In order to improve your rank you need to perform missions for minor factions which are aligned to the relevant superpower. These can be missions of any type, as long as the faction is aligned. Note that the amount of rank you gain from a mission scales with the amount of REP reward the mission provides.
The most common mission types for improving your rank are:
Once the progress bar under your Rank fills up, you may be offered a “Follow-On” missions for the Federal or Imperial Navy. Note that these will only appear from factions with whom you have at least a “cordial” relationship, so if you are just starting in a new system, you may find it takes a while to get your reputation up to the point these appear.
Don’t worry if your rank bar fills up and you aren’t seeing the Navy mission. Just keep going with gaining more REP because your progress is still going on in the background. In the lower ranks you may well wait around a while to find a Navy Mission, only to find once you’ve done it that the rank bar for the next rank is already complete, and your next Navy mission is available.
Periodically starports are attacked in the Elite galaxy, either by human or alien forces. When this happens, the station suffers a very large amount of damage and is set on fire, unsurprisingly under these circumstances, the civilian population immediately seeks to leave, and there are very large numbers of passenger trips available to get them to the nearby rescue megaship.
Performing these rescues is by far the fastest way to gain reputation with local factions, and therefore, if they are aligned to either the Federation or the Empire, the fastest way to gain rank.
In order to do these missions, you just need a ship with as large a passenger capacity as possible (economy cabins are fine for desperate refugees) and a few heat sinks, shields are also highly recommended due to the volatile nature of the burning stations. Popular ships for these are include:
Fly to the burning station, dropping a heat sink as you go in is advisable to avoid overheating, land and go to the passenger mission board. The best missions to take are those with the lowest number of passengers and the highest amount of REP. Do that until your passenger cabins are full then head to the nearby rescue ship (again dropping a heatsink on the way out). Rinse and repeat.
Note that you won’t find any Navy Rank missions through this method, so while you’ll find your rank progression completes rapidly, you won’t be able to actually gain the next rank until you go elsewhere and find those missions. You may want to do this periodically to keep track of your progress, but remember that your progress is still going on in the background even if you are not climbing the ranks.
Imperial space offers a pair of systems which are faster than any other place for gaining rank with the Empire. That pair of systems are Mainani and Ngalinn. Note that both systems only contain a single Outpost station, so you’ll need to bring a small or medium ship.
These two systems are very close to each other, and both only have a single station at which you can land. Each has a large number of Imperial factions, as well as offers a significant number of "Data Delivery" missions going to the other. The Imperial aligned factions are those with the Imperial Eagle under their name as shown here:
The methodology here depends on heading to Mainani, docking at the outpost, taking all the Courier / Data Delivery missions to Ngalinn you can from the Empire aligned factions (and doing any credit donation missions if you have free funds). Jumping across and handing them in, taking the REP reward, picking up missions back to Mainani. Rinse and repeat until you have the desired rank.
Note that you will also find many missions to Flettner Survey in Aitvas, you can take these as well if you are running low on missions between Mainani and Ngalinn as again there are plenty of Imperial factions there.
You can even accelerate this by committing suicide as soon as you complete your jump into the system. You will immediately rebuy at the target destination, skipping the supercruise and landing process, and you can still complete the missions since data delivery missions do not fail on ship destruction.
The Federation sadly does not offer any singular overwhelmingly efficient system for rank gain as the Empire does. There are however a number of options, each of which is reasonably effective but is significantly slower than the Empire method.
Each of these methods has a number of supporters who claim it is better than the other two to gain rank. In practice, I suspect this is due to the changes in background simulation state over time, and luck.
Ceos / Sothis
The method here is essentially identical to the Imperial method described – take all the Courier missions you can get from one system to the other, then repeat the process back to the first system. Rinse and repeat.
However, there are a few notable differences. Firstly, there is only a single Federal faction in these two systems, as a result you are highly dependent on the state of that faction, if it is in a boom and / or outbreak state, you are likely to have an easy time filling up on missions. If not, you’ll have a harder time. The faction you are looking for has this symbol:
Secondly, there is more than one station in each system. As a result, you cannot apply the suicide method to reliably arrive at your destination each time, and the missions you take could be to any one of the stations in the other system. The best approach I have found is to travel around the stations in one system collecting missions until you have 20, then jump to the other system, and fly from station to station (starting at the one which completes the most missions) handing them in and collecting more missions.
Finally, due to the greater difficulty in filling up on Data Delivery missions, I would recommend using a ship like a python which is both relatively fast, but also has a good cargo capacity, thus allowing you to take cargo delivery missions as well.
Note: avoid the missions with the Horizons symbol on them (indicating the destination is a planetary port) since planetary approach takes much longer and these ports are the furthest destinations from the star (in one case over 100k Ls). The Horizons symbol looks like this:
Ochosi / Chakpa
The method here is essentially identical to the one described above for Ceos / Sothis. The advantage here is that there are three Federal aligned factions in each system instead of one. However, in practice the missions from each of these systems may point to a wider array of nearby systems, so you may find it harder to stack missions efficiently.
Canopus / Exphiay
Again the method here is exactly the same as the above two, with the trade-off being generally higher REP rewards being available, and two Federation factions available, against taking longer to complete each trip. The differences are as follows.
Firstly, the missions here are more biased towards cargo missions, so I would recommend putting more focus on having a larger cargo hold. A Cutter is the ideal ship for this as you are likely to meet NPC pirates here.
Secondly, the stations in Canopus are 42,000 Ls away from the star. This means that there are relatively long supercruise times in this system., which is the reason each trip takes longer.
As before, it is recommended to avoid the missions to planetary port as this will further slow down your trips. However, if you find a large number of missions to this destination, it may be worth considering in this pair of systems.