TIE Fighters -- named for their Twin Ion Engines -- first saw use during the waning days of the Old Republic. They rapidly became the main starfighters of the Galactic Empire, in a multitude of subvariants, and are one of the most recognizable symbols of the Empire, other than Stormtroopers.
While the name refers to the craft's propulsion method, the TIE family is better-known for its distinctive use of large side radiators which are commonly referred to as "solar panels."
The actual engines appear as a pair of glowing red circles on the rear of the fighter.
The TIE family is known for its great maneuverability, made possible by the lightweight construction and powerful power plant. The small visible surface area of the craft when it is facing its target gives the fighter the advantage of being difficult to hit when attacking, especially under jamming conditions.
Originally, Republic Sienar Systems, the design house of Raith Sienar, produced the TIE Fighter, but after its nationalization by the Empire, it was renamed to Sienar Fleet Systems; and SFS is responsible for all production after the original Republic TIEs.
TIE Design History
Note on Subvariants: Unlike many other authors, I don't consider many of the insane TIE designs, such as the Interdictor,Hunter and Oppressor to be part of Star Wars; but rather the result of idiot game designers with too much time on their hands, who instead of logically thinking out the progression of technology, and what a unit would be likely to use, instead create a new one-shot craft which we never ever see again in the Expanded Universe, ever; and essentially being Penis Envy designs.
You may call this elitism; but I call it using a brain.
Designed by Republic Sienar Systems' Advanced Projects Laboratory, circa 32 years before Yavin. Despite it being 26.5 meters long and being a fast courier instead of a starfighter, there are clear design lineages between this design and the later Sienar TIE projects; so it can be considered a sort of "pre-pre-production experimental design" leading up to the TIE series. The craft was also equipped with state of the art stygium crystal cloaking device and thrust trace dampers capable of confounding even Coruscant's warning grids.
Republic T.I.E. Fighter
First Generation TIE Fighter. Has octagonal wings, rather than the hexagonal wings of later production models. First spotted six months after the Battle of Naboo, or about 31.5 BBY.
Second Generation TIE Fighter. Developed and deployed shortly after the Imperial Star Destroyer design entered mass production. Due to the immense cost of the ISD program, it was decided to upgrade the existing T.I.E. design rather than develop an all new heavy, hyperdrive-capable starfighter. Deployed at the Battle of Yavin in which they were on par with Rebel X-wings.
Later material, however, depicts Tie Fighters as designed to be expendable, and as vastly inferior to Rebel fighters.
Third Generation TIE Fighter. Is faster and more durable than its predecessors. Commonly seen by the time of ESB.
A more or less standard TIE/ln fighter, with the main differences being a droid brain replacing the cockpit interior and stubby rectangular solar panels. These were only deployed on a major scale as constructs of the World Devastators attacking Mon Calamari. The installed droid brain proved to be easy for Rebel pilots to outwit.
A modified version of the TIE/ln designed for providing targeting data for ground support strikes and capital ship strikes. Has a single laser cannon; and is normally used in conjunction with TIE/gt craft for ground strikes where precision is needed.
A modified version of the TIE/ln designed for ground support and light capital ship strikes. Is currently being replaced by the TIE Bomber as of the ESB era. A significant limitation of the craft is that it carries no fire control sensors capable of sufficient discrimination for precision ground strikes, requiring TIE/fc support for said strikes. Currently, the Imperial Navy is transferring these as fast as they can to out of the way outposts and the Imperial Army.
Payload Options (Can only pick one)
- 6 Proton Torpedoes
- 12 Concussion Missiles
- 18 Air-Deployed Mines
- 2 Cluster Bombs
- 20,000 Plastic Leaflets
Fourth Generation TIE Fighter. Takes several qualities of the TIE Advanced series of starfighters, and combines them into a mass production starfighter. Because they proved a superior craft to the Tie Fighter while still proving very cheap, the Empire began to stop production of Tie Fighters in favor of Intercepters. As of the Battle of Endor, about 20% of the Empire's starfighters were TIE Interceptors.
The TIE interceptor is twice as fast as the average TIE, and uses quad blaster cannons at the tips of its wings.
TIE Bomber Series
First purpose-built TIE starfighter designed for attacking ground targets, offering a massive increase in capabilities over the earlier TIE/gt; being capable of carrying more types of ordnance, especially types that can cause severe damage to even capital ships. Also, the TIE Bomber also carries its own built in sensor apparatus; freeing the pilot from having to rely on TIE/fc spotter craft for precision ground strikes. is unique as it does not have blasters, instead it's armed with concusion missiles.
Payload Options (Can only pick one)
- 8 Proton Torpedoes (can be modified for 12 in service)
- 16 Concussion Missiles
- 8 Proton Bombs
- 6 Orbital Mines
- 64 Thermal Detonators
- 4 Space Bombs
- 8 Heavy Rockets
A modified version of the TIE Bomber; is used to ferry high priority personnel and cargoes from ship to ship and to ground stations. Is generally used by the commanding officers of ships; lower ranking officers ride in other shuttlecraft, while Flag rank officers use Lambda-class shuttles. Captain Needa in ESB traveled from his ship to the Executor in a TIE Shuttle.
Passenger capacity is two; with cargo capacity being one metric ton. Every ship that carries TIE Fighters usually has at least one TIE Shuttle for various duties.
TIE Boarding Craft
Similar in design to the TIE Shuttle, it is used to carry assault squads onto captured or disabled ships when larger craft were unnecessary. The secondary pod is slightly longer than the standard TIE Bomber pod, and is equipped with hull clamps and a hull cutter to enable quick boarding.
TIE Avenger Series
When the Empire began to notice the mounting costs of replacing fighters that were destroyed by the Rebellion, and the damage Rebel's hyperdrive equipped fighters were inflicting, the Empire began production of more powerful fighters.
TIE Advanced x1
Pre-production version of the TIE Avenger flown by Darth Vader at the Battle of Yavin. It was equipped with shields and a hyperdrive, enabling Vader to successfully escape the destruction of the first Death Star.
TIE Advanced x2
Further development of the x1 pre-production version into a developmental test version. Thirty two were produced and underwent field trials for nine months before being returned to Sienar Fleet Systems.
Fifth Generation TIE Fighter. The final, productionized version of the TIE Advanced, and the most produced in numbers of the Empire's advanced starfighters.
The TIE Hunter was based around the X-wing fighter as the Empire saw how effective it was in battle. Armed with 12 proton torpedoes, twin blaster cannons and twin ion cannons as well as a hyperdrive, shielding and life-support, it was as fast as an interceptor and as powerful as a B-wing, making it a force to be feared, however not very many were made as they were expensive
TIE Defender Series
TIE Advanced x7
Pre-production version of the Defender. Little data is available on it.
Sixth Generation TIE Fighter. Productionized version of the TIE Advanced x7. Was the most powerful and lethal starfighter in the Galaxy when it debuted in combat. Unfortunately, due to its immense cost (costing more then five times as much as a standard Tie Fighter), and the destruction of the production factories early on by an Imperial traitor, production never really amounted to much.