The A-9 Vigilance is a short-range Imperial fighter that was introduced shortly after the defeat of Grand Admiral Thrawn, five years after the death of the Emperor at the Battle of Endor. Designed by Kuat Drive Yards, makers of the infamous Imperial Star Destroyer, the A-9 Vigilance represented an attempt by Kuat to steal come of the lucrative starfighter contracts Sienar Fleet Systems had received for its TIE fighter series.
While some Imperial factions purchased A-9's, the ship also fell into New Republic hands. Oppressed workers on a Kuat factory world managed to depose their planetary governor and turn a few A-9 prototypes to the New Republic forces as the Empire's offensive against Mon Calamari was heating up (a year after Thrawn's death).
The A-9 is typical of many fighters-it has no shields and no hyperdrive. Instead, it is compact, light, and fast and therefore was perfect for shock attacks against reinforced New Republic bases or slower capital ships and fighters. It is faster than the TIE Interceptor and on a par with the New Republic's A-wing fighter.
The hull is a simple affair, with a central control cockpit pod that contains the Carbanti sensor arrays, weapons, and all computer systems. Two wings connect to the powerful KuatDriveSystems A-9x thrust engines. The engines are as long as the starframe and have self-contained power generators. The laser cannons also have their power generators, and the computer control system can reroute power from any of these generators to any other portion of the ship, allowing the pilot to cut power to the weapons and limp home even if the engine power generators fail (provided that the engines are still functioning).
The A-9's weapons consist of two forward-firing laser cannons which pack more punch that do an X-wing's laser cannons. While they are generally fire-linked for simultaneous fire, a modification kit allows laser cannons to be independently targeted. This kit includes a servo driver system that can depress the guns up to ninety degrees, making the A-9 capable of performing strafing missions against ground targets.
While Kuat Drive Yards promised the Empire a superior fighter, combat results have been consistently disappointing. While the ship is indeed faster than the TIE interceptor, it has been shown to be no more maneuverable, and its hull is actually significantly weaker. The Empire purchased a fighter that is limited in its utility as is the New Republic's A-wing fighter. It is believed that Kuat designers are developing an improved A-9, which should be far tougher. New Republic technicians have thoroughly examined the A-9, and while not amazed by what they see, they intend to use some of its design elements in future New Republic fighters.