- "Let me see your identifications."
- ―A sandtrooper in Mos Eisley
They were nearly identical to standard stormtroopers, but had additional training in specialized areas and advanced cooling systems in both their helmets and suits that offered them protection from the relentless heat. They also were designed specifically to take into account elements in desert worlds that can clog breathing filters and jam machinery, such as sandstorms, ash storms, or other particles. Visual differences in armor included a distinctive diamond-shaped left knee plate, non-ribbed chest and back plate connectors as well as reinforced abdominal plating. It was typical for non-commissioned officers (white and orange pauldrons) and above to remove the “drop boxes” on the waist; a redundant and unnecessary accessory given the upgraded load-bearing kit requirements for sustained operations with minimal resupply. Additionally, the usual thermal detonator worn by normal Stormtroopers on the lower back was not present, as its wear and access would be impeded by the typical SD-48 survival backpack. The SD-48s were necessary for them to complete extended missions in unrelenting heat, and contains several liters of purified water, a miniaturized vaporator for condensing water from the atmosphere, a long-range comlink, and a collapsible reflective shelter.
Their armor consisted of an 18-piece anti-blaster cocoon shell like that of a stormtrooper, but also had a heat-reflective coating worn over a temperature-control body glove, as well as cooling recirculators. The sandtrooper helmet featured automatic polarized lenses, a built-in comlink, and breathing filters. The purpose behind the polarized lenses was to eliminate dune glare.
All desert sandtroopers carried E-11 blaster rifles, DLT-19 heavy blaster rifles, T-21 light repeating blasters, or RT-97C heavy blaster rifles, long-range comlinks, food, and water packs. Sandtroopers wore colored pauldrons as a designation of rank. A sandtrooper sergeant's pauldron was white, while an enlisted trooper's pauldron was all black. Squad leaders, who led units of seven troopers, wore orange shoulder pauldrons.
- "Stop that ship! Blast 'em!"
- ―Mod Terrik
The stormtrooper detachment dispatched in 0 BBY to investigate a crashed escape pod on Tatooine just prior to the Battle of Yavin consisted of sandtroopers. One of them noticed a droid part and concluded that there were droids aboard the escape pod. They eventually encountered Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Obi-Wan Kenobi and attempted to stop the departure of the Millennium Falcon, although they ultimately failed. Skywalker, when reading up on the sandtroopers upon procuring a copy of the Imperial Military's field manual Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide, admitted that he was surprised that the sandtroopers were not bothered at all by the heat on Tatooine, as he expected they would not know enough about the planet to handle it.
They had heavy weapons, survival gear, and shoulder pauldrons denoting rank.
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