Starfighters had been an integral part of space-based combat for millennia, seeing in action as early as the days of the Old Republic. However, after the formation of the Galactic Republic and the millennium of relative peace that followed, large battles between opposing space-based combatants were completely unheard of.
In 32 BBY, 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 Order utilized Delta-7 Aethersprite-class light interceptors, Delta-7B Aethersprite-class light interceptors, and the later 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. 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. 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, such as the Free Ryloth movement and Berch Teller's rebel cell.
Late in the Clone War, the former Sith Lord Darth Maul formed the Shadow Collective in a short-lived attempt to conquer the galaxy by defeating both the Republic and Separatist forces. The Collective, formed from the Mandalorian Death Watch and elements of the criminal underworld, had access to a small starfighter force consisting mainly of Death Watch's Kom'rk-class fighters. These multi-role starfighter-transports also served as effective bombers.
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 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.
Out of sheer desperation for any equipment they could obtain, the rebellion operated numerous starfighter classes from a variety of sources. The Lothal rebels made use of the Phantom, a customized Corellian VCX-series auxiliary starfighter that doubled as a shuttle and scout craft. The Lothal rebels eventually joined the Phoenix rebel cell, which utilized RZ-1 A-wing interceptors 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 starfighters they could obtain. The Rebel Alliance Starfighter Corps made use of A/SF-01 B-wing starfighters, Fang fighters, T-65B X-wing starfighters, Z-95 Headhunters, and converted HWK-290 light freighters in addition to the older A-wings and Y-wings. In addition, 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. Many starfighter types used by the Rebellion continued to see action in the early days of the New Republic.
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