An agile, single-pilot starfighter with a small, spherical cockpit suspended between a pair of immense solar array wings. The TIE fighter, which utilizes advanced twin ion engines, was designed primarily for speed. In order to decrease the vehicles weight, it has not been equipped with life-support systems, deflector shields, or hyperdrive engines. Armed with only a pair of standard laser cannons, the mass-produced TIE fighters must rely on their greater numbers to overwhelm enemy forces.
Developed by Sienar Fleet Systems, the TIE/Ln Space Superiority Starfighter used by the Empire during most of the Galactic Civil War is one of the most maneuverable and frighteningly effective starships ever produced. The TIE/Ln incorporates the same advanced Twin Ion Engines (TIE) design created by Seinar for a starfighter then known as the T.I.E. The engine configuration in the TIE/Ln requires very little fuel, but provides the TIE with incredible speed and agility, allowing it to outrun the majority of Rebel craft, save the A-wing.
Because it relies solely on speed, every aspect of the TIE fighters design is concerned with reducing the vehicles weight. With this in mind, heavy shield generators and thick armor plating have been abandoned. Thus, the TIE fighter is extremely vulnerable to enemy fire. Fortunately, the small cockpit and the ships increased mobility make the craft exceptionally difficult to target.
In the quest to decrease the TIEs weight still further, bulky hyperdrive and life-support systems have also been omitted. The TIE is stocked with meager rations, capable of sustaining the pilot for about two days, and carries very little fuel. In combat, the TIE requires refueling every few hours. Given these limitations, TIE fighters are strictly short-range craft and must rely on a home base, usually a Star Destroyer, orbiting space station, or planetary hangar. In addition, TIE pilots, who are often considered suicidal by other Imperials, must wear fully-sealed flight suits complete with self-contained oxygen supplies and atmosphere converters
The TIE fighter's energy consumption and power generators have been designed to be extremely efficient as well. The starships array wings collect solar radiation and transfer the energy to the massive power generators, which account for most of the TIE fighters mass, and numerous batteries spread throughout the vehicle. The pair of forward-mounted, fire-linked laser cannons are powered by separate generators in the undercarriage of the command pool.
The interior cockpit design is spartan yet elegant in its simplicity. The pilot is strapped into a small high-gee shock couch and is further protected by a crude repulsorlift antigravity field and crash webbing. The pilots feet are inserted into control yokes responsible for maneuvering and adjusting speed. A hand-yoke located directly in front of the pilot controls the TIEs laser cannons, targeting computer, and navigation computer. The hand-yoke also allows for subtle shifts in speed and heading. However, the TIE is extremely sensitive to pilot adjustments. Inexperienced TIE pilots can easily lose control of the craft during complex maneuvers and find themselves hurtling through space. In addition, novice pilots often find it difficult to use the hand-yoke to simultaneously maneuver and fire, although TIE veterans eventually learn to push the starship to its limits.
Imperial use of the TIE fighters has always emphasized overwhelming an opponent. It has been said that for every TIE fighter shot down, a thousand more will rise up in its place. TIE fighters are found at virtually every Imperial installation, from the smallest planetary base to massive space stations. Imperial Star Destroyers carry a full complement of seventy-two TIEs while 7,000 of these starfighters were housed aboard the first Death Star. During the height of the Empires power, Sienar Fleet Systems was mass-producing TIE fighters on a staggering scale, manufacturing thousands of the starships on an annual basis. Cadets graduating from the various Imperial academies were vigorously pursued by recruiters and dropped into TIE fighters, where a great many lost their lives.
Deemed expendable by Imperial tacticians, the TIE fighters primary mission profile includes attacks on Rebel vessels, as well as raids against pirate craft, alien starships, space stations, and other targets. TIE fighters are also frequently assigned to convoy duty and are often ordered to protect cruisers or planetary bases from Rebel forces. In their secondary capacity, TIE fighters escort TIE bombers and assist in assaults on planetary basses. TIE fighters are usually deployed in squadrons, each consisting of twelve individual starships. A full TIE fighter wing is composed of six squadrons, or seventy-two ships.
After the success of the basic TIE fighter, Sienar Fleet Systems designed numerous TIE variants for specific mission profiles. Among the most successful models are the TIE bomber and the original TIE fighters successor, the TIE Interceptor. Other designs include the TIE/rc, a typical TIE fighter stocked with advanced sensor arrays and communications devices for use in reconnaissance, which was then followed by the more effective TIE scout, and finally by the heavily shielded TIE vanguard. Another model, the TIE/fc, aids in the fire control and targeting for long-range Navy artillery, while the TIE/qt is a makeshift planetary assault craft that served as the predecessor to the TIE bomber and the more powerful Scimitar assault bomber. In the process of developing the TIE interceptor, Sienar technicians built the TIE Advanced x1 Prototype, the starship used by Darth Vader at the Battle of Yavin.
Shortly before the destruction of the second Death Star, Sienar designed a radical new prototype dubbed the TIE defender. This starfighter has three solar array wings, numerous armaments, and a competent hyperdrive. About six years after the Battle of Endor, the company also introduced the fully automated TIE/D, the first starfighter completely controlled by a droid. The TIEs inventors have even manufactured vehicles for use during ground conflicts, most notable the TIE crawler, a small tank utilizing the familiar TIE cockpit.
The New Republic made limited use of captured TIEs, equipping them with shields and assigning them to sectors where they weren't considered a symbol of the Empire. Their most notable use in New Republic service was at the Battle of Adumar.