The A-wing was the fastest starfighter in the galaxy at the time of the Battle of Endor. Designed by
Alliance General Jan Dodonna and Rebel engineer Walex Blissex, the A-Wing was intended to be a high-speed ship capable of outrunning
anything in the Imperial Navy. At the battle, a single A-wing destroyed the Super Star
Destroyer Executor when pilot Arvel Crynyd rammed the Executor's bridge, causing the ship to crash into the Death Star.
Blissex had valuable experience from his work on the Clone Wars-era Delta-7 and Alpha-3 interceptors, and the two set about drawing up designs. Basing their initial designs around the R-22 Spearhead, the pair drafted a proposal and presented it to Chief of State Mon Mothma.
The small, wedged shaped ship continues to be on of the Alliance's main interceptor
fighters. It is an exceptionally difficult ship to fly because it is constantly pushing the
limits of performance. The A-wing had no astromech droid to manage its
weapons systems, requiring further attention from the pilot. The A-wing is
constantly subjected to incredible stresses, and its engines, hull, and weapons system require constant maintenance. Since it is only 9.6 meters long, each ship component is wedged into the
cramped hull, and even the lightest hit can cause critical system failures. The pilot is almost totally exposed to enemy fire.
While fast, the A-wing is fragile and is easily damaged by enemy fire. One hit is often enough
to destroy the vessel. A-wing pilots must rely on the ship's blistering speed and their own willingness to take foolish chances
to survive in combat.
The A-wing has two wing-mounted pivoting blaster cannons which can angle sixty degrees up or down. This gives the fighter a far wider field of fire than starfighters with fixed weapon emplacements. A few A-wings have even been modified to fire straight back. Each laser cannon has its own power generator. A-wings sometimes are mounted with a pair of concussion-missile
launchers with 3
missiles each; while these weapons are short-range, their destructive capability is superior to that of laser cannons.
The A-wing has an unusual sensor-jamming array which serves to disrupt enemy readings, although this unit is generally effective only against fighters. This array also jams communications, allowing A-wings to attack and get away before the enemy can summon help.
The A-wing gets its remarkable performance from two Nocaldex J-77 "Event Horizon" engines, and relies on centered thruster-control jets for maneuverability, although the J-77 engines have adjustable thrust-vector controls for enhanced performance. Adjustable stabilizer wings assist in atmospheric flight. The wing-control
units are tied into the engine's thrust-vector controls, so the wings visibly adjust even in space.
The A-wing was originally designed to defend Rebel bases and merchant ships from Imperial raids. However, Rebel tacticians eventually learned that it was far better for "hit-and-fade" assaults against Imperial Vessels, where its superior speed allowed the A-wing to attack and flee before enemy fighters could be scrambled. The A-wing was also used in combination with other Rebel fighters: the "A-wing slash" was a devastating attack that used
slower fighters to distract enemy TIEs while the A-wings closed in on the Imperial ships and cut them to ribbons.
Shortly after the Battle of Endor, the second generation A-wing, the
Mark II, entered production. One confirmed alteration was that the laser
cannons of the A-wing Mark II were configured for full 360-degree
The value of a high speed interceptor was clear, but the A-wing had major defensive and navigational limitations. Thus, new starfighters like the E-wing or T-65AC4 X-wing were created with comparable speed, but heavier shields and armor, astromech
compatibility, and more powerful weapons. Despite the introduction of newer starfighters and efforts standardize fleet operations, the A-wing's exceptional design allowed it to endure through the Yuuzhan Vong War.