Star Wars: Imperial Sensors

Written: 1998.08.01
Last Revised: 1999.01.10

Star Destroyer sensor domeBecause the Star Wars Galactic civilization completed its understanding of physics eons ago during the era of the decadent Old Republic, we no longer equip our ships with extensive scientific data-gathering arrays like the ones on Federation starships. Our scanner and sensor arrays are therefore limited to tactical data-gathering of enemy ship location and movement.

Some Federation cultists have claimed that our starfighter sensor technology was shown at its best in the battle of Yavin, but in reality the heavy jamming and distortion around the Death Star (as mentioned in ANH and described in the ANH novelization) interfered with the sensor and maneuvering systems of both the Rebel fighters and our own. Normally, starfighter pilots use a combination of visual guidance and instrument control.

Many Federation cultists also make the ludicrous claim that our sensors cannot gather data at superluminal speeds (this in spite of the fact that we possessed subspace technology when their forebears were still fighting land wars on foot, with primitive metallic blade weapons, and we discarded that inferior technology in favour of the newer Holo-Net and hyperwave communications and sensor systems). Perhaps they should take note of the events in TESB:

The ludicrous nature of the Federation cultists' sensor claims is most apparent when one realized that their most advanced sensor technology is subspace-based (ref. TM). However, not only do we possess subspace technology (which we still use for inexpensive short-range communications gear) but subspace sensors were used in our galaxy during the time of Xim the Despot, before the dawn of the Old Republic 25,000 years ago, as described in Han Solo and the Lost Legacy:

"mytag crystals were used in old subspace common and detection gear; you needed lots and lots of them for any spacefleet or planetary defenses."

Therefore, Federation sensor technology is at least 25,000 years behind our own.

Detection of Cloaked Ships

Unlike the Federation, we can detect cloaked ships, as seen in the Zahn trilogy. The crystal gravfield trap sensors necessary for this type of detection are very expensive, so we don't feel that large-scale deployment will be necessary against the Federation which does not use cloaking technology.

However, we have learned that the Romulans use cloaking technology and it is possible that they will share this technology with the Federation if necessary. Therefore, we recommend installation of CGT sensors aboard command vessels such as Executor and Eclipse-class Star Destroyers, as well as any large vessels which may be sent through the wormhole such as the Death Star and Galaxy Gun.


All Imperial starships, including the smallest one-man fighters, incorporate sensor jamming equipment. According to SWICS, advanced TIE fighters employ sophisticated sensor suites that "must overcome the extremely powerful jamming signals used by all combat craft". The DS also employed "hundreds of Kuat Drive Yards 220-SIG tactical jammers" that prevented the attacking X-Wings from being able to use their onboard sensors (ref. SWEGWT). And of course, the Imperial fleet broadcast so much sensor interference during the Battle of Endor that the Rebel fleet was unable to determine whether the DS2 shield was up or down until they destroyed the fleet's primary communications ship (ref. ROTJ novelization).

At very close range, high-powered sensor pulses can "burn through" jamming. This is why high-powered jammers inevitably reduce combat ranges to visual sighting ranges; it is impossible to target ships at long range through a blanket of white noise, but a combination of sensor targeting and manual control can be more effective at close range. Heavy starships and massive vessels like the Death Star can project such enormously powerful sensor pulses that they can increase their effective scanning range somewhat in spite of the jamming, but in a large battle the presence of literally thousands or tens of thousands of jamming sources (the fighters) can still make long-range targeting very difficult.

The Federation appears to avoid using jammers, most likely because they are reluctant to impede their own sensor arrays. This will confer another advantage upon us in battle; they are not accustomed to dealing with high-powered jamming.

Large, high-powered Imperial jammers are often coupled with distortion field generators which can actually affect the maneuverability of starships, in addition to interfering with their sensors, as described in the following quote from General Dodonna during the Yavin briefing in ANH:

"Also, their field generators will probably create a lot of distortion, especially in and around the trench. I figure that maneuverability in that sector will be less than point three."

This passage suggests that high-powered jammers actually perform a secondary function of distorting the space-time continuum itself, thus making starship maneuvering difficult at best. As an aside, this is the probable explanation for the slow X-wing speed in the trench runs (along with the fact that the heavy jamming would have made it impossible to accurately target the port at higher speeds). The X-wings were travelling much slower in the trench than they did during their trip around Yavin to attack the Death Star.


Our sensor technology is superior to Federation sensor technology, particularly since it allows us to detect cloaked ships while they cannot. We do not believe that sensor technology will play a significant role in determining the outcome of combat in this conflict, but we recommend CGT installation on command vessels in case the enemy starts using cloaked warships. We also recommend that all jamming units be set to maximum output, because Federation starship crews are unaccustomed to dealing with sensor jamming.

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