The Lancer Frigate is a 250 meter-long capital combat starship that the Empire designed specifically to combat Rebel starfighters. The Lancer was designed by the Empire shortly after a small number of Rebel X-wing and Y-wind fighter destroyed the ""invincible" Death Star battle station. While the Empire didnt face as many Rebel starfighter attacks as Imperial Navy strategists first feared, the Lancer proved its worth in its first few encounters.
The biggest problem with the Lancer is that it is expensive in relation to its actual utility. A Lancer cost as much as any other heavy combat cruisers, yet it is suitable only for repelling fighter attacks. The Empires supply of Lancers was limited, and it proved impossible to assign the cruisers to protect every convoy. The ships were best put to use attacking Rebel starfighter bases, although the Empires opportunities for these missions were rare since the Rebels showed an unnerving ability to operate right under the noses of the Imperials without being discovered.
The Lancer has twenty Corellian AG-2G quad laser cannons specifically calibrated for use against high-speed , maneuverable starfighters. The weapons have superior tracking and targeting capabilities and are mounted on elevated towers to provide an increased field of fire; each bank of lasers is fed by a single power generator. Backup gunners must balance power demands to keep the Lancers weapons operating at full capacity.
Unfortunately, the Lancer has virtually no capital-scale weapons for engaging other combat or capital starships. Another drawback is that Lancers are slow at sublight speeds, so Rebel fighters with a small lead were often able to outrun the ships. Their hull armor plating and shields are insufficient to stand up to the punishment most capital starship weapons can dish out, so Lancers proved to be targets of choice for Rebel capital ships. Each Lancer frigate has a small internal hangar bay with room for only two shuttles. Carried troops and vehicles are always kept to a minimum.
Lancers supplemented most Imperial warships, which tended to feature multiple banks of capital-scale turbolasers but few smaller weapons for dealing with starfighters. Originally the Lancers were placed on the outer perimeters of Imperial fleets to ward off fighter attacks, but Rebel capital ships found them easy pickings. The Imperial Navy then began assigning Lancer frigates to flank Star Destroyers and other large ships, where the Lancers guns provided protection against mass starfighter attacks and the larger ships weapons could protect the Lancers themselves from powerful Rebel cruisers.
Five years after the death of Emperor Palpatine, Grand Admiral Thrawn demonstrated his tactical genius by employing Lancer frigates as key components of Imperial raiding missions. The Lancers devastated the New Republic fighter squadrons while softening up enemy defenses so heavy Imperial cruisers could move into the opposing fleet and use their ion cannons to disable and capture lightly crewed New Republic warships.