The TIE defender was a prototype Imperial fighter that was developed shortly before the Battle of Endor. After initial testing, which was believed to be personally supervised by top Imperial Navy commanders, the TIE defender was deployed to a small number of elite TIE wings. Only a few key personnel in Navy command knew that the ship was used to defeat rogue Imperial Admiral Zaarin, who had planned to depose Emperor Palpatine.
The vessel represented a radical departure from conventional TIE designs and featured three sets of solar collection panels mounted at equilateral points around the fighters cockpit. The TIE defender, while publicly touts as a "logical advance" for Imperial fighter design, was actually a quiet admission that the Alliances fighter tactics had been successful. Following specific Navy directives, Sienar Fleet Systems developed a ship that was fast, heavily armed, and equipped with a hyperdrive-in other words, a ship just like the Alliances fighters. At over 300,000 credits per unit, it was more than five times as expensive as a standard TIE/In fighter.
The TIE defenders numerous weapons systems allow it to successfully engage multiple enemy fighters, while the hyperdrive permits the ship to operate independently of support carriers, giving the ship flexibility that was unmatched by any other Imperial starfighter. Standard Imperial doctrine called for the ships to be deployed in flights of four, although Imperial commanders took advantage of the ships superior design by customizing mission forces on a case-by-case basis.
The TIE defender is one of the fastest production fighters ever used by the Empire: its nearly 40 percent faster at sublight than the standard TIE/In, The TIE defender still follows the basic twin ion engine model, but it uses the newest P-sz9.7 engines to generate added speed. Maneuverability has also been improved significantly through the addition of triple arrays of maneuvering jets on the triwing assembly, making the ship capable of dives and twists that would put even the remarkable agile TIE interceptor to shame.
The TIE defender features four laser cannons and two ion cannons, which can be fired independently for multiple targets or fire-linked for a concentrated assault. Rounding out the TIE defenders weaponry are two missile launchers which can be equipped with proton torpedoes and concussion missiles. For defense, the TIE Defender has a pair of Novaldex shield generators.
While the TIE defender is one of the most sophisticated fighters ever developed, its cost, combined with the upheaval that followed the death of the Emperor, prevented the fighter from ever coming into widespread use. A few of the ships were used by elite TIE fighter wings, but as a whole the TIE/In and TIE interceptor continued to dominate the Imperial fleet even after Grand Admiral Thrawn reunited the Empires forces against the New Republic.