Imperial Star Fighter Philosophy: A Brief
Submitted for consideration for inclusion in the New
Republic Military History Archives, Coruscant.
is of the utmost importance that all students of military tactics and strategy
be well versed on the philosophies that governed the distribution and use of
the star fighter arm of the largest navy ever created by one government. At
it's height, the Empire of Emperor Palpatine boasted nearly 15,000 Imperial-Class
Star Destroyers, 5 active Super-Class Star Destroyers and over 100,000
TIE class star fighters in the fleet alone. These numbers do not take into
account the thousands of support vessels, axillaries and reserve ships.
in the 3 years since the Defeat at Endor, even conservative estimates indicate
that the Empire has lost 60% of its forces. The loss of large capital ships,
such as the Star Destroyers, can only be attributed to the superiority of the
Rebel Alliance/New Republic star fighters. While the Mon Calamari MC-80's and
MC-90's are by and large quite capable ships, even the novice student of
tactics can see that they would simply be no match for the overwhelming number
of capital ships that the Empire still retains. The Imperial Fleet, even taking
into account casualties and defections, still outnumbers the New Republic navy
by a margin of no less than 14 to 1!
the ability of New Republic star fighters, including the Y-Wing, X-Wing, B-Wing
and A-Wing, to withstand large amounts of damage during a battle, has provided
the needed edge to overcome the Imperial numerical superiority. Indeed, even
today, Commander Wedge Antilles of Rogue Squadron is able to go into battle
against opposing Imperial forces more than 3 times in number than his own and
still expect victory with no losses.
the war against the remnants of the Empire continues, and more Imperial pilots
are defecting to the New Republic, a definitive picture of principals employed
by top Imperial commanders in the application of star fighter assets becomes
apparent. This report will present those ideas and detail why they are flawed.
doctrine suggests that the ability to achieve victory is through strength in
numbers, to overwhelm the enemy through the use of overkill. When a mission
requires a single flight of fighters, a squadron is sent. When a city rebels,
the entire continent is leveled through orbital bombardment. Therefore,
Imperial commanders generally end up throwing all of their resources
immediately into a battle and hope that the overwhelming superiority in numbers
will assure victory. Very few Imperial commanders have ever demonstrated the
restraint that is common among New Republic officers. Those few Imperials that
do, such as the self-proclaimed Warlord Zsinj, have managed to establish
distinct boundaries for their territories, as well as have been able to hold
our forces at bay.
with several former Imperial officers, including, by great luck, a rare
discussion with General Han Solo, indicate that Imperial philosophy is that the
mission goals are paramount, regardless of the cost to life. The goal is,
literally, to achieve the goal, then to worry about lives afterwards. The
Empire has billions of lives to choose from; a pilot could be replaced at what
was considered minimal expense, but a strategic defeat is totally unacceptable.
General Solo went on to state that Imperial doctrine puts the mission first,
then the equipment and then the pilots. Other experienced New Republic officers
have gone so far as to comment that such an official attitude towards its
pilots results in low morale, which in turn promotes poor performance on the
strategy of overwhelming an enemy requires vast amounts of resources. While the
Imperial navy possesses several thousand large ships, most are considered
impractical for the missions they are employed for. Indeed, it appears that the
Star Destroyer's main purpose was to be a weapon of psychological warfare; to
scare the enemy onto submission. A review of Imperial mission logs show that it
was, prior to the introduction of the Alliance Mon Cal cruisers, a rare
occurrence for a Star Destroyer to even engage a target. Therefore, we must
assume that for all intents and purposes, with the exception of missions
specifically detailed around a Star Destroyer, that standard Imperial doctrine
called for the use of star fighters to overwhelm enemy defenses.
Imperial star fighter corps started out with several models of fighter, from
Old Republic designs to more advanced craft (for the time) such as the Incom
Z-95 Headhunter and the Koennsayr BTL-S3 Y-Wing. Both of these more advanced
fighters, proven veterans of the Rebel Alliance, were considered too outdated
by the technologically minded Imperial military very early on after their
introduction into the Imperial fleet. Seinar Fleet Systems then approached the
Imperial military about developing a star fighter exclusively for fleet usage
(both Incom and Koennsayr had civilian versions of their military-grade
models). Approval was soon given for the project, which was indirectly placed
under the direction of Lord Vader, and the first TIE (Twin Ion Engine) model
was flown off of the assembly line within months.
first model, the TIE/ln, personified everything that Imperial commanders felt a
modern star fighter should be: small, sleek and fast. Indeed the TIE/ln was, at
the time, the fastest star fighter produced in the galaxy. The final selling
point was cost; the TIE/ln had a cost that was approximately 75% of what a new
Z-95 Headhunter sold for. Soon, all SFS manufacturing facilities were turning
out TIE/ln's and the older fighters of the Imperial navy were sold, scrapped or
placed in reserve. A note of interest: this program of replacing older fighters
with TIE models is what created the surplus of unused craft that originally
provided the Rebel Alliance with the basis for its star fighter fleet. As it is
stated by the Jawas of Tattooine: "One being's trash is another's treasure".
TIE/ln was a distinct deviation from previous military designs for star
fighters. It had no hyperdrive, nor did it have the capacity to have one
installed. This prevented it from acting independently of a base or mother
ship, placing increased pressure on commanders not to foolishly place their
capital ships in harm's way. The fighters had no shields, trading protection
for speed, which accounted for the numerous military victories achieved by the
TIE/ln the first few years of production. Simply put, there was no other star
fighter that could keep up with it.
of pilots was also improved as SFS coordinated with the navy to provide solid
courses of instruction. However, as the fleet grew in later years, much of the
hands-on training would be replaced by simulator instruction. As I will point
out later, this will have a devastating effect on the efficiency of the
commanders soon realized that their new fighters were lacking in several "key"
areas. The most important was the ability to deliver heavy ordinance to
targets. This left them with two choices: develop a new fighter/bomber, or
reinstate the Y-Wing into active military service. At this time, the military
approached both Incom and Seinar Fleet Systems to develop a fighter or
fighter/bomber capable of delivering missiles, torpedoes and bombs.
had, by this time, already begun secret negotiations with members of the Rebel
Alliance to develop a star fighter that would have the heavy firepower and
speed in order to go up against the TIE/ln. Receiving funding from Military
Research and Development, Incom developed the first prototype of what would
become the X-Wing fighter. Several early versions of the X-Wing were
distributed to Imperial-friendly organizations for field-testing, including
Fleet Systems suspected that Incom was cooperating with the growing rebellion
and placed a spy in their organization. This itself is proof that the senior
officials at SFS felt that Incom had developed a superior fighter design and
were fearful that Imperial commanders would see that. Fortunately for SFS,
their spy was able to find evidence of certain key Incom members conspiring to
turn the X-Wing design over to the Alliance and alerted the Imperial
authorities. Imperial forces raided Incom facilities too late, as the designs
and plans for the X-Wing were spirited away as the engineers defected to the
the X-Wing now had the stigma of the Rebellion attached to it, the Empire
severed all official ties with Incom. Why the company simply wasn't taken over
by the government is not known. However, a key point was the Seinar Fleet
Systems not only won the fighter/bomber contract, but they also received the
service contract for the remaining Z-95 Headhunters in Imperial service. The
SFS service agencies were not anxious to perform work on a competitor's craft,
which resulted in several planetary defense forces selling their fighters to
SFS produced the TIE Bomber. The craft was able to carry a heavier payload than
the Y-Wing, but it was by far an inferior craft. It maneuvered poorly in vacuum
and atmosphere. It had no hyperdrive, shields or ion cannon (which were
standard on the Y-Wing), yet it cost more than the older craft.
again, we see the mentality of Imperial doctrine at work. While the TIE bomber
was less adaptable as older, proven designs, the fact that it could carry a
much greater payload, that it represented the latest in star fighter
technology, was enough for Imperial commanders to immediately begin ordering
it. Most military theorists now suggest that the introduction of the TIE bomber
may have been the single greatest blunder of the entire Imperial Civil War. Had
the Imperial military continued to use the Y-Wing or some other similar type of
craft, and then precision strikes against Alliance capital ships would have
been possible. As it was, the slow speed and poor protection of the TIE Bomber
simply made it a target for more limber Alliance fighters.
months, Imperial commanders saw that the Alliance X-Wings were achieving
several victories over the TIE/ln's and raised their concerns with SFS. The
response was a prototype star fighter that was given to Lord Vader himself to
test. Lord Vader's prototype fighter was equipped with a hyperdrive and
shields, as well as a larger ion engine, to make it compatible with the X-Wing.
After several months of field-testing, Lord Vader decreed that the design was
acceptable. When the fighter was brought before the Emperor for approval, it
was deemed too expensive for mass production. The Empire was still recovering
from the expenses involved in the purchase of the TIE Bomber. The Emperor
ordered the hyperdrive and shielding removed, as well as suggesting a change to
the solar panel design. The new design, coined "double dagger" by the
designers, provided more overall surface area for absorption of solar energy,
which would allow for more weapons and a larger engine.
final design was dubbed the TIE Interceptor and it is considered the pinnacle
of TIE series design. Other TIE models have been developed since, but none
packed so much power into so small a package. The TIE Interceptor was designed
to accommodate shield generators and missile launchers if necessary for
specialized missions. However, despite the jumps in design and technology, the
TIE Interceptor simply could not take the punishment that the Alliance craft
could. It was only through the superior training techniques of men such as
Soontir Fel that the fighter was able to gain its fearsome reputation.
older craft such as the Z-95 and Y-Wing, the TIE Interceptor nearly always
meant death. Against superior fighters such as the X-Wing, the lack of
shielding proved to be its downfall. Several commanders, as we have learned
from captured logs, made requests to Imperial City that a fighter be developed
with shield capability. However, this idea went against the Imperial doctrine.
While certain pilots, such as Soontir Fel, were considered heroes of the
Empire, it is believed that there was a general fear of pilots developing
experts agree that the use of overwhelming force on the part of the Empire hid
the fact that the upper echelon of the military were actually paranoid; that
they may have been truly aware that the excessive use of force that was
employed may come back to haunt them. As Luke Skywalker demonstrated at Yavin,
it only takes one pilot of exceptional skill to turn the tide of battle. The
assembly line mentality of Imperial military training, where emphasis was
placed on preserving weapons and not life, is indicative of a paranoid mindset.
stated previously, attrition was slowly turning the TIE Interceptor into a
fighter to be dreaded. Imperial commanders were known to send the fighters into
situations that called for heavier assault craft, such as the Cygnus Spaceworks
Assault Gunboat. This, plus the fact that pilots were beginning to be rushed
through training and placed into actual combat without adequate preparation,
were leading to huge losses in the fighter corps.
is important to note that recent intelligence reports indicate that TIE
Interceptors are now being equipped with shields (some years after the death of
the introduction of the TIE Interceptor, Alliance commanders began developing a
new fighter to match the speed of the new TIE Interceptor. Alliance philosophy
was that the safety of the pilot was of paramount importance. General Crix
Madine was quoted as saying, when asked about the design process for a new star
fighter, "a fighter is only as good as it's pilot. You can always find a good
snubnose fighter, but you can't always find a good pilot to fly it."
A-Wing fighter was developed as a direct response to the TIE Interceptor.
Imperial commanders immediately demanded a fighter superior to the new Alliance
design. The Weapons Development Program, under the leadership of Admiral
Zaarin, worked closely with SFS to develop the TIE Advanced, or "Avenger".
TIE Advanced was actually based on the original prototype for TIE Interceptor
that was originally rejected by the Emperor. Many Imperial commanders were
reluctant to order the new craft, which came equipped with hyperdrives, for
fear of pilots defecting to the Rebel Alliance. On another level, many former
Imperial officers who were involved with the development of the TIE Advanced
have admitted that by bringing the fighter into military service, the Imperial
military was acknowledging that the Alliance philosophy of fewer, but more
powerful craft was a better strategy in fighting the civil war.
appears now that the commander's fears had some basis as we now have
indications of up to 15% desertion on the part of TIE Advanced pilots. It is
now not so uncommon to find a TIE Advanced as part of a mercenary or pirate
group. Because of the high cost of the fighter, supplemented with the high
desertion rate, all orders for the TIE Advanced were cancelled after the Battle
are currently rumors of a final TIE design that was introduced only after the
death of the Emperor. The Imperial High Council, under pressure from the higher
military commanders, authorized the manufacture of the TIE Defender.
Information concerning this fighter is sketchy at best, but intelligence
estimates indicate that this latest fighter incorporates all of the advanced
technology available. However, based on the cost of previous models and the
shrinking Imperial economy, it is unlikely that this fighter will be deployed
in any great numbers.
doctrine originally dictated superiority in numbers, combined with the latest
technology and coupled with the unwavering determination to complete the
mission as planned. It was believed, at the time the doctrine was originated,
that this was what was required of a modern fighting force. The psychological
effects of having a ridiculously large military force was considered to be
enough to keep most governments in line with the policies of the New Order.
Considerations for the individual [pilots] were naught, training doctrines were
slackened to permit more pilots and cost became the final characteristic of the
star fighters employed by the Empire.
most Imperial commanders refused to acknowledge that sometimes newer is not
necessarily better, many star fighter designs incorporated technology that was
questionable as to whether it met the requirements of the application. Imperial
philosophy stated that avoiding damage was better than absorbing it. Realists
realize, however, that in combat, you will take damage and your equipment must
be able to take and still operate with some degree of effectiveness. Being able
to operate independently of bases and mother ships provides greater mission
flexibility, which Imperial forces were not able to take advantage of. Because
of the high attrition rate of Imperial pilots, most of the experienced pilots
were dead by the Battle of Endor, and those that were available had mostly
simulated combat training.
intelligence reports indicate that Imperial doctrine may be changing; it is the
opinion of many experts that this is because most of the commanders who
followed previous guidelines are now dead. The victories over the remnants of
the Empire do not come as quickly now. Warlord Zsinj maintains a substantial
battle fleet and he is known to control several SFS facilities. There are
rumors from the Outer Regions of military commanders ensuring that ships are
better equipped and that the pilots are better trained.
the case, it is obvious that the philosophy of the Imperial navy towards the
use and development of their star fighters was significant in their inability
to provide adequate coverage for their bases and capital ships, thus resulting
in their decreased numbers they possess today.
Ensign, New Republic Navy
+2.41.66 ABE (After the Battle of