Starfighters had been an integral part of space-based combat for millennia, seeing action as early as the days of the Old Republic. However, with the formation of the Galactic Republic and the millennium of relative peace that followed, large-scale battles between opposing space-based combatants were completely unheard of.
Later that year, N-1 starfighters of the Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps engaged and defeated the Trade Federation's Vulture-class starfighters during the latter's invasion of Naboo. This brief and localized conflict set the stage for the Separatist Crisis, which would kickstart the pan-galactic Clone War in 22 BBY.
During the Clone War, the Jedi continued utilizing the old Delta-7s, but also developed the Delta-7B Aethersprite-class light interceptors, and Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptors. The clone trooper pilots under their command flew V-19 Torrent starfighters, BTL-A4 Y-wing assault starfighter/bombers, Aggressive ReConnaissance-170 starfighters, Clone Z-95 starfighters, and Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing starfighter. Grand Master Yoda operated his own customized Actis-class fighter. Skull Squadron, a Mandalorian unit serving the Republic, flew Fang fighters. At the conclusion of the Clone War, some of the Republic starfighter classes would be inherited by the Galactic Empire, while others would be decommissioned and fall into the hands of the rebellion. Others would be discarded entirely, seeing almost no military service after the conclusion of the war.
The Separatists, which opposed the Republic in the Clone War, mainly used Vulture-class droid starfighters built for the Trade Federation. Later, to counter increasingly capable and diverse clone fighters, the Confederacy manufactured and deployed droid tri-fighters, and Hyena-class bombers. The Separatists also built manned fighters for their organic commanders, such as Rogue-class starfighters, Belbullab-22 starfighters, and Ginivex-class starfighters. Geonosian forces, which allied themselves with the Confederacy, flew Nantex-class territorial defense starfighters, while the Umbaran Militia flew their indigenous Umbaran starfighters. The Zygerrian Slave Empire, which allied itself with the Confederacy, had a small force of Huttese HH-87 Starhoppers, which saw action against Republic forces on Kadavo. Death Watch, a Mandalorian splinter group allied to the Confederacy, operated Kom'rk-class fighters, which doubled as transports and bombers. After falling out of Count Dooku's favor, Death Watch would pledge their loyalty to Darth Maul's Shadow Collective, which opposed both the Confederacy and the Republic. After the conclusion of the war, many of the droid starfighters used by the Confederacy's regular forces survived the Clone War and were used by rebels fighting against the Empire.
At the conclusion of the Clone War, the Imperial Military inherited some of the starfighter classes of the Republic Navy. By the time of the Galactic Civil War, however, it was reliant on the TIE line. This new generation of vehicles, powered by twin ion engines, were developed from technology used in the older Republic starfighter and transport classes. These craft included the famous TIE/ln space superiority starfighter, TIE Advanced v1, TIE/sa bomber, TIE Advanced x1, TIE/IN interceptor, TIE/D Defender, and TIE/sk x1 experimental air superiority fighter. The Empire also deployed VT-49 Decimators on occasion as bombers. In addition to Imperial use, numerous TIE/LNs were given to the Mining Guild and converted to Mining Guild TIE fighters. Imperial TIEs would occasionally fall into rebel hands, and the rebellion made good use of these opportunities.
Out of sheer desperation for any equipment they could obtain, the rebellion operated numerous starfighter classes from a variety of sources. Bail Organa's rebel network operated RZ-1 A-wing interceptors as early as 18 BBY. Berch Teller's rebel cell and the Free Ryloth movement both used old Separatist droid starfighters in 14 BBY. Beginning around 5 BBY,the Spectres made use of the Phantom, a customized Corellian VCX-series auxiliary starfighter that doubled as a shuttle and scout craft. The Spectres eventually joined the Phoenix rebel cell, which utilized A-wings and a small number of RZ-1Ts, which were A-wings converted into two-seat trainers. Jan Dodonna's unit made use of decomissioned Republic Y-wings, which served as multi-role fighter-bombers. Later, the loose-knit network of rebel cells morphed into the better-organized Alliance to Restore the Republic, which continued to operate a fairly rag-tag collection of whatever equipment they could acquire. The Rebel Alliance Starfighter Corps made use of A/SF-01 B-wing starfighters, T-65B X-wing starfighters, T-65C-A2 X-wing starfighters, UT-60D U-wing starfighter/support craft, Z-95 Headhunters, and converted HWK-290 light freighters in addition to the older A-wings, Fang fighters, and Y-wings. Some of the light freighters used by the Alliance boasted maneuverability and armament equivalent to contemporary starfighters, with powerful shields more commonly seen on large capital ships. Additionally, the rebellion made use of stolen TIE fighters in desperate situations.. In the final days before the Alliance was reorganized into the New Republic, a team led by Leia Organa appropriated N-1 starfighters to knock out Imperial weather control satellites in the Battle over Naboo. Many starfighter types used by the various rebel groups continued to see action in the early days of the New Republic.
In its early days, the New Republic continued to operate the rebellion's old starfighter classes, and even continued stealing TIEs when the need arose. They also possessed a small number of HH-87 Starhoppers, which they used for covert operations. By the time of the First Order–Resistance conflict, the New Republic Starfleet had retired all of the older starfighter classes (and some of the newer ones, such the B-wing Mark II) in favor of the T-85 X-wing. The Resistance's Starfighter Corps used an older model, the T-70 X-wing fighter donated by sympathetic senators. They also made use of a small number of single-seat A-wings, as well as a few Z-95 Headhunters for covert opertions.
The First Order Navy continued the TIE line that the Empire had begun, with the new models upgraded to modern combat standards. This new generation of TIEs included the TIE/fo space superiority fighter and the two-seat TIE/sf space superiority fighter used by the Special Forces.
Notes and referencesEdit
- List of Star Wars starfighters on Wikipedia