Star Wars: 5 Best Imperial Fighters

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The Imperial Navy has a reputation for making…less than adequate fighters, but here are 5 Imperial fighters that prove otherwise!

A lineup of TIE fighters.
That’s a lot of screeching.

Most (if not all) of the Empire’s bad reputation for their fighters comes from the original TIE/In space superiority starfighter, more commonly known as the TIE Fighter. The TIE Fighter has no shields, no hyperdrive, no life support systems, and poor armor to boot. Its only armament is a pair of forward-firing laser cannons. Its one good trait is that it’s decently fast and agile, but that’s hardly enough to make up for its bad traits.

TIE Fighter has no mouth, but it must scream.
When you realize that it was based off of the A6M Zero fighter…

Thus, to redeem the Imperial Navy, I present to you this list of 5 good Imperial fighters:

5. TIE/IN Interceptor

Starting in 5th place, we have the TIE/IN Interceptor!

TIE Fighter v. 2.0.
What the TIE fighter should’ve been.

The TIE Interceptor was mass produced sometime after the Battle of Yavin, when the Imperial Navy realized just how badly the TIE Fighter performed against Rebel fighters. It thereafter became the new standard fighter of the Imperial Navy.

The TIE Interceptor is basically a better version of the TIE Fighter. While it still lacks shields and hyperdrive, it has larger engines compared to the TIE Fighter, making it faster and more agile than anything other than the Rebel A-wing interceptors. In addition to the twin chin-mounted laser cannons, it also has four more laser cannons on its wingtips. This gives it six laser cannons in total, giving it a larger firepower advantage over most Rebel fighters.

A TIE Interceptor blueprint from a dead Bothan spy.
A technical readout of the TIE Interceptor, courtesy of dead Bothan spies.

The Empire recognized these facts, and assigned their elite pilots to the TIE Interceptor. Their skill and experience let them make the most of its performance, making the TIE Interceptor even more dangerous in their hands. One example of these aces was Lieutenant Kasan Moor, who commanded the elite 128th TIE Interceptor Squadron. Unfortunately, she defected to the Rebels over the Empire’s destruction of her homeworld: Alderann.

Who here remembers "Star Wars: Rogue Squadron"?
Perhaps the Empire will think twice before blowing up more worlds. Or not.

4. TIE/D Automated Starfighter

You may be surprised by my choice for 4th place, but I think the TIE/D Automated Starfighter is one of the most underrated Imperial fighters ever.

AKA: the Imperial Dalek Fighter.
TIE/D: “Exterminate!”

The TIE/D Automated Starfighter, also called the Droid TIE Fighter, is a droid fighter fielded by the Empire, echoing the vulture droids and tri-fighters used by the CIS. The Droid TIE Fighter’s most infamous use was during the Battle of Mon Calamari, where the Empire deployed World Devastators that mass produced these droid fighters using Mon Calamari’s crust.

Self-replicating starships programmed to eat planets? What a great idea!
The Empire deploying Berserker probes in a startling display of strategic idiocy.

Because the Droid TIE Fighter has no pilot, it also has no cockpit, shields, or hyperdrive. This allowed it to be not only faster than even the TIE Interceptor, but also allowed it to mount heavier armor. It’s armed with only a pair of laser cannons. However, it’s still a better fighter than the TIE Fighter. This is a mark of just how bad the TIE Fighter was.

Bothans everywhere.
A Bothan spy died to bring you this blueprint.

The Droid TIE Fighter’s Ace-6 droid brain was noticeably inferior to organic pilots. This one fact caused it to be discontinued. However, I believe this is a mistake. Sure, the droid brain may be inferior to an ace pilot. But if the droid brain is made to be as good as an average pilot, or even a below-average pilot, it would make the Droid TIE Fighter useful for swarming attacks. At the very least, it could replace the TIE fighter for such attacks. This would save the lives of organic TIE pilots, who could then be put into much more capable fighters.

Remember: always reduce, reuse, and recycle your organic pilots.

The Imperial power is yours!
Captain Planet telling the Empire that wasting organic pilots is bad for the galaxy.

3. TIE/HU Hunter Multi-Role Starfighter

Now for the fighter in 3rd place: the TIE/HU Hunter Multi-Role Starfighter! And believe you me, I had a lot of trouble deciding to put it in a mere 3rd place.

The Imperial X-wing fighter.
AKA: the Imperial knock-off of the X-wing.

The TIE Hunter was designed by the Empire specifically to counter the X-wings those Rebels love using. Unfortunately, it was also used only by Imperial storm commandoes. The low numbers produced meant that it never saw its full potential. Its most notable use was during the Battle of Fondor, in which captured TIE Hunters were used by the Rebels to infiltrate the shipyards there and destroy an incomplete Executor-class star dreadnought.

It's like encountering a rare Pokemon!
Wild TIE Hunter has appeared!

The TIE Hunter is a massive improvement over all previous TIE Series. They not only have shields, but also hyperdrive, making them far more durable and flexible in use. Their armament consists of twin laser cannons, twin ion cannons, and a pair of proton torpedo launchers with 12 torpedoes total. This makes the TIE Hunter nearly as well-armed as the Rebel B-wing. And as an added touch, it also has X-wing-style S-foils that when closed, made it the fastest Imperial fighter to date.

Now if only those damned Imperial storm commandoes would just let everyone else play with their shiny new toys.

Imperial storm commandoes hoarding their precious fighters.
Imperial storm commandoes: “We’ll never let anybody have our precious!”

2. TIE/D Defender

In 2nd place for “Best Imperial Fighter”, we have the amazingly overpowered TIE/D Defender!

A funny fighter kills you.
It looks funny, but it’d be the last laugh you’d ever make.

The TIE Defender is a prototype fighter that outclasses even the TIE Hunter. Unfortunately, the TIE Defender never saw widespread service for many reasons. In fact, it never even saw mass production. Elements of it were used to design the TIE/sf and TIE/vn, but the TIE Defender itself would forever remain a footnote in history.

How many Bothan spies died to bring you this?

I really don’t understand why. The TIE Defender is the most heavily armed TIE to ever be developed. One variant was armed with 4 lasers cannons, 2 ion cannons, and a pair of missile launchers that could fire either proton torpedoes or concussion missiles. Plus, it even had a tractor beam projector that could let it trap other fighters.

The next not-quite-crossover battle?
A TIE Defender about to put this X-wing in a world of hurt.

Personally, I think it was a criminal oversight to let this incredible piece of engineering go to waste. Whoever got it cancelled should be directed to Lord Vader to be shown the error of their ways.

I find your lack of faith in the TIE Defender disturbing.
Lord Vader punishing those responsible for the TIE Defender’s demise.

1. GAT Series Skipray Blastboat

And now finally, we have the fighter that bests even the vaunted TIE Defender. Behold, the GAT Series Skipray Blastboat!

Breakfast and dinner. Dessert too.
I eat fighters for lunch.

The Skipray Blastboat is a series of gunboats used by the Imperial Navy. It’s small enough to fit into capital ship hangars as fighters, yet it’s also hyperspace-capable and is fast enough to outrun most fighters. It’s actually so heavily armed and shielded that some registries actually classify it as a mini-capital ship. While it’s nowhere near as agile as a fighter, being able to outrun them covers plenty of sins.

RIP Bothan spies.
There must be a massive graveyard of Bothan spies out there for all these blueprints to be in circulation.

The Skipray can do much more than just catch fighters. It’s armed with 3 ion cannons, twin lasers cannons in a dorsal turret, a starboard proton torpedo launcher, and a port concussion missile launcher. It even has a tractor beam projector for snaring other ships before they can escape. Not even the TIE Defender could outgun it before it’s gunned down by the Skipray’s massed ion cannon fire.

So why isn’t the Skipray being mass produced by the Imperial Navy? Politics. The Imperial Navy snubbed the idea of a hyperspace-capable miniature capital ship/fighter hybrid. This unfortunately led to Sienar Fleet Systems deciding to sell it on the open market, which led to many smugglers and assorted criminals buying it for the features that made it a great ship. There is something ironic about criminals seeing what admirals could not.

Too bad Han Solo didn't have one of these.
How is it that the Zann Consortium, of all things, gets all the cool stuff?

The lesson here is that military companies shouldn’t sell military-grade equipment on the open market. Especially not Skiprays. Lord Vader would be very displeased.

Conclusion

A whole lot of promising fighters were cancelled by the Imperial Navy for some petty and minor reasons. Most of those reason seem to boil down to politics and internal fighting. Lord Vader is most displeased with them all.

Displeased Vader is displeased.
A picture of Lord Vader shortly before paying a visit to Imperial Navy HQ.

Now all we need to do is sit back and enjoy the screaming. I guess the Imperial Navy will be redeemed by death instead. But hey, at least the Imperial Army isn’t as brainless with their walkers, right?

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