TIE fighter

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TIE fighter
Star Wars vehicle
A pair of standard TIE/LN starfighters
First appearance Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker (1976 novel)
Created bySienar Fleet Systems Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems
Auxiliary vehicles Ejection seat
General characteristics
Class Space superiority fighter
ArmamentsSFS L-s1 laser cannons (2)
Maximum speed
  • 4,100 G (maximum acceleration)
  • 1,200 km/h (746 mph; maximum atmospheric speed)
  • 100 MGLT (megalight per hour; subluminal speed)
PropulsionSFS P-s4 Twin Ion Engines
PowerI-a2b Solar Ionization Reactor
Length7.2 meters (23 ft 9 in)
Width6.7 meters (21 ft 11 in)
Height8.8 meters (28 ft 11 in)
Population volume1 pilot

TIE fighters are fictional starfighters existing in the Star Wars universe. Propelled by Twin Ion Engines, TIE fighters are fast, agile, yet fragile starfighters produced by Sienar Fleet Systems for the Galactic Empire and by Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems for the First Order and the Sith Eternal. TIE fighters and other TIE craft appear in Star Wars films, television shows, and throughout the Star Wars expanded universe. Several TIE fighter replicas and toys, as well as a TIE flight simulator, have been produced and sold by merchandise companies.


Origin and design

Colin Cantwell created the concept model that established the TIE fighter's ball-cockpit and hexagonal panels design for Star Wars (1977). [1] Star Wars creator George Lucas liked the basic design consisting of two panels connected by a stick with a ball-shaped cockpit, but Cantwell's concept had few details. [1] Joe Johnston created additional details, such as the cockpit window and the attachment points between the solar panels and the hull. [1]

Initially given a blue color scheme, the TIE fighter models for the first film were grey to better film against a bluescreen; TIE fighters in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) shifted back to being a muted blue. Sound designer Ben Burtt created the distinctive TIE fighter sound effect by combining an elephant call with a car driving on wet pavement. [2] In the book The Sounds of Star Wars, the engine roar is likened to German Junker Ju 87 "Stuka" bombers, who used sirens to frighten civilians on raids. This could have been a possible inspiration for the sound. Combat scenes between TIE fighters and the Millennium Falcon and Rebel Alliance X-wing fighters in Star Wars were meant to be reminiscent of World War II dogfight footage; editors used World War II air combat clips as placeholders while Industrial Light & Magic completed the movie's special effects. [3] Darth Vader's distinct TIE Advanced x1 in Star Wars was designed to make it instantly recognizable, [4] and the TIE Interceptors developed for Jedi were designed to look fast, deadly, sleek and frightening. [1]

The Jedi starfighter, created for Revenge of the Sith (2005), was designed to bridge the appearance of the Jedi starfighter in Attack of the Clones (2002) and the TIE fighter design from the original trilogy. [5] The V-wing starfighter, seen at the end of Revenge of the Sith, also makes the distinctive TIE fighter sound when flying by a Star Destroyer. Dark Horse Comics' Sean Cooke designed the TIE predator for Star Wars: Legacy (2006), set 130 years after the events of Star Wars, to appear both reminiscent of and more advanced than the original TIE fighter. [6]

Designers for The Force Awakens (2015) had numerous discussions about how much to "update" the TIE fighter for the first sequel film set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. [7] They retained the starfighter's design but altered its aesthetic to suggest improvements to the vessel's manufacturing process and materials. [7]


Star Wars literature states that Grand Moff Tarkin commissioned Sienar Fleet Systems to design and manufacture the Twin Ion Engine line edition (TIE/ln) space superiority starfighter and most TIE variants. Tarkin specified that the TIE had to be fast, maneuverable, energy-efficient, and inexpensive; simply put they are meant to be easily mass-produced and engage in swarm tactics, with the expectation of being expendable assets that would be lost in combat. To meet these requirements, Sienar incorporated aspects of the V-wing and Jedi interceptor into the new starfighter. [8]

TIE fighters have two hexagonal wings fitted with solar panels which power a twin ion engine (TIE) system that accelerates ionized gases at a substantial fraction of lightspeed along almost any vector, affording the ships tremendous speed and maneuverability albeit with limited fuel reserves. [9] [10] [11] These wings are also structurally sound enough to double as landing gear and feature repulsorlifts for take-off and landing, though TIE fighters are designed to be launched and recovered by cycling storage racks used by Imperial starships and garrisons. [12] The TIE fighter's primary weapons are a pair of laser cannons tied to a secondary generator and mated with an advanced targeting computer which assists the pilot in hitting other fast-moving starfighters. The fighter does not possess deflector shields, and while its light armoring is proof against small arms and glancing micrometeoroids a direct hit from a laser cannon will destroy it, encouraging pilots to shoot first and make their shots count. The TIE fighter also lacks a hyperdrive, not only to save on weight and cost but to discourage defection. Although the TIE fighter's cockpit is pressurized and equipped with oxygen scrubbers to prevent corrosion, it doesn't contain any life-support systems, requiring pilots to wear special flight suits. [9] TIE fighters are equipped with ejection seats, [13] though in older Legends sources there was disagreement on this issue. [14]

Star Wars literature also holds that TIE fighter pilots are considered an elite group within the Imperial Navy, relying on their quick reflexes and fearlessness to survive multiple tours of duty. Training involves hundreds of flight hours learning to coordinate as a team and intense psychological conditioning to put the accomplishment of their mission above other considerations. [15] [16] [17] [18] As such most TIE fighter pilots have a life expectancy of less than a year. [19] TIE fighter pilots wear self-contained flight suits with life-support systems connected to reinforced vacuum-sealed flight helmets. These helmets feature ship-linked communications and displays. [16] [20]

TIE variants

In addition to the standard TIE/ln fighter (also available as the TIE Light Duty training craft, as seen in the Jump to Lightspeed expansion pack to Star Wars Galaxies ), a variety of other TIE craft appear throughout the films.

In Star Wars Film and television
A TIE/sa bomber Tiebomber.jpg
A TIE/sa bomber
A TIE/IN interceptor Tieinterceptor.jpg
A TIE/IN interceptor
In Star Wars Legends continuity

A number of different TIE designs made their appearance in what is now considered Star Wars Legends, a separate continuity that was split off after Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise. The TIE/sa was the inspiration for the triple-hulled TIE lander, featured in Star Wars No. 60 and in Star Wars: Complete Locations. Red-modified TIE interceptors are also used by the Emperor's Royal Guards, as featured in Rage of the Wookiees, another expansion of Star Wars Galaxies.

Additionally, LucasArts Star Wars video games introduce several TIE variants, such as the TIE Hunter starfighter in Rogue Squadron III and the TIE Mauler surface vehicle in Empire at War . [49] The TIE/ad fighter (nicknamed "TIE Advanced" or "Avenger" in-game and derived from Vader's TIE Advanced x1 fighter) and TIE/D Defender — heavily upgraded derivatives of previous craft seen in the Star Wars universe — first appear in TIE Fighter as player-pilotable craft. [30] The plot of Rebel Assault II revolves around destroying the Empire's ability to manufacture the cloaking TIE Phantom starfighter, and a campaign in X-Wing Alliance centers on destroying experimental remote-controlled TIE fighters.

Star Wars literature also introduces TIE varieties. TIE raptors attack Rogue Squadron in Solo Command . [50] [51] TYE wings – TIE fighter and Y-wing hybrids – appear both in I, Jedi and Rogue Squadron: Masquerade . [50] Dark Horse's Dark Empire introduces both the droid-piloted TIE/D and the TIE crawler "century tank". [52] West End Games' roleplaying sourcebooks introduce varieties that include the TIE/fc fire-control support ship, the TIE/gt ground-attack fighter, the TIE/rc reconnaissance vessel, and the TIE scout. [53] [54]

Cultural impact

A TIE fighter model used in filming the climax of Star Wars sold at auction for $350,000, [55] and another TIE fighter from the film sold at auction for $402,500. [56] Fans built a 16-foot-by-20-foot, 1,000-pound TIE fighter float to commemorate Star Wars' thirtieth anniversary as part of the 2007 Gala Parade in Crystal Lake, Illinois. [57] A Wired editor's creation of a TIE fighter model out of Starbucks cups and stirrers prompted the magazine to create a contest for its readers to submit their own art out of similar Starbucks material. [58] io9 mocked the variety of TIE fighters in the franchise, listing four TIE models on its list of the eleven "silliest" Star Wars ships. [59]

Kenner released TIE fighter and TIE interceptor toys during the original Star Wars trilogy's theatrical release, and Kenner's die-cast TIE bomber is a rare collector's item. [22] [60] [61] Hasbro also released TIE fighter, TIE bomber, and TIE interceptor toys. [62] [63] [64] Both Kenner and Hasbro also manufactured TIE fighter pilot action figures. [62] [65] Lego manufactured TIE fighter, TIE bomber, TIE interceptor, TIE defender, and TIE advanced models. [66] [67] [68] [69] Decipher and Wizards of the Coast published various TIE starfighter and TIE-related cards for the Star Wars Customizable Card Game and Star Wars Trading Card Game , respectively. [70] [71] In 2012, Fantasy Flight Games released Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game , a miniatures game with pre-painted and to scale miniature X-wings and TIE fighters. In 1994, LucasArts released the TIE Fighter flight simulator, which casts the player as an Imperial pilot flying a variety of TIE starfighters. TIE starfighters and their variants are also playable in third- or first-person perspectives in several Star Wars titles. [72]

In 2018, a number of Star Wars starfighters had their aerodynamic abilities tested using the Autodesk Flow Design virtual wind tunnel program. Of those studied, the TIE Fighter scored the worst with a drag coefficient of .98, which is only slightly better than a brick. Of the other TIE variants tested, the TIE interceptor was slightly better with a coefficient of .78, while the TIE Striker had the best at .48, though this did not compare favorably to the .02 drag coefficient of an F-4E Phantom. These poor results were rationalized with the in-universe explanations that drag coefficient plays no role in space travel, and that Star Wars fighters can use repulsorlifts and deflector shields to give themselves better flight profiles. [73] [74]

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