- "I've played around with Aleph simulators. They've got plenty of speed, but they maneuver like big plugs of duracrete."
- ―Syal Antilles
The Aleph-class starfighter, originally nicknamed the Pondskipper, but more commonly known as the Aleph or Twee, was a heavy two-seater starfighter designed by Sienar Fleet Systems for use by the Galactic Alliance Navy. The fighter was utilized by the Alliance during the Second Galactic Civil War and beyond.
- "I hit mine with a good quad-linked punch and it didn't even shudder."
"Yeah, they're supposed to be like shooting solid metal ball bearings."
- ―Han Solo and Wedge Antilles
As the nickname "Twee" suggested, an Aleph resembled the head of a Twi'lek with two long, tapering drive units thrust back behind a ball-shaped cockpit pod, similar to that of a TIE/LN starfighter but somewhat larger. To add to the fighter's ungainly appearance, the cockpit was flanked by a quad laser turret on either side, likened by some personnel to a pair of earmuffs. These turrets were usually problematic to operate, and would often either fail to immediately respond or jam altogether. The pilot and gunner sat side-by-side in a shared cockpit with two forward-facing circular viewports. The gunner sat on the right and the pilot on the left, with an R-series astromech droid set centrally in a socket behind their respective seats. The Aleph's large hull was very tough—an armored chassis housed mighty power generators to feed its strong deflector shields. Its main weapons were the aforementioned quad laser cannons, which boasted very wide fields of fire and an option to un-link the cannons, creating an unpredictable spray pattern; this was a holdover from the Aleph's original purpose. In addition, the fighter featured forward-firing proton torpedo and concussion missile tubes. The fighter also had an impressive top speed, comparable to the Kuat Drive Yards Eta-5 interceptor, and was quick in atmospheres—although its acceleration paled in comparison to that of an X-wing—but its one major deficiency was a serious lack of maneuverability. To compensate for this, rows of thruster ports were placed along the dorsal and ventral surfaces and both sides of the hull, allowing the fighter to make lateral sidesteps or vertical jumps and drops in flight. However, many pilots regarded this system as no substitute for the inherent grace and maneuverability of a smaller snubfighter. Aleph-class starfighters also relied on a transport vessel such as a Mon Calamari heavy carrier to ferry them into and out of battle.
Inception and production
- "Sienar Aleph-class starfighters. Originally nicknamed Pondskippers because they were to be countermeasures to coralskippers. The current nickname is Twees. They're out of prototype and in limited production."
- ―Wedge Antilles elaborating on the Aleph's design
In the last months of the Yuuzhan Vong War in 29 ABY, plans were proposed by Sienar Fleet Systems to create a specialized fightercraft for battling the Yuuzhan Vong Yorik-et, or "coralskipper", on a one-to-one basis, earning the design the nickname "Pondskipper". However, the design would not be seen in action before the Galactic Alliance won the war, and it would be more than a decade before the Aleph would be eventually produced in limited numbers for the Galactic Alliance Navy, around 40 ABY. As of this time, six Alephs were combined in an experimental squadron and based on the Mon Calamari heavy carrier Blue Diver in the Corellian system. Syal Antilles flew as the pilot in an Aleph-class starfighter, although she would have preferred to fly a much faster Eta-5 interceptor. Zueb Zan was her gunner, and would complain with regularity about the turrets, which were often balky, and the general maneuverability of the vehicle, complaints with which Antilles concurred. Even so, Antilles reflected that her family name deserved a little prestige, and so she decided to test the Aleph to its limits. Stationed at Tralus as the conflict with Corellia escalated, their vessel participated in the battle that opened the Second Galactic Civil War; during the fighting and a close encounter with Corellian sympathizers Han Solo, and Syal's own father Wedge Antilles, the craft was damaged and narrowly evaded destruction, and Antilles managed to return to the Blue Diver despite the wounds dealt to the fighter. The two also served throughout the war and it was in battle with the Aleph-class design that Antilles would be elevated to the rank of captain after she and Zan defended Galactic Alliance Chief of State and Sith Lord Jacen Solo against a Jedi StealthX squadron led by Luke Skywalker after a failed Corellian assassination attempt from Centerpoint Station destroyed the Blue Diver and left the Galactic Alliance fleet in tatters.
- "If they want to arrest us, they would have sent something that could catch us."
- ―Han Solo as two Aleph-class starfighters form up on the Millennium Falcon over Coruscant
Alephs were also used to patrol Coruscant's orbit as of 43 ABY; as Han Solo and Leia Organa Solo journeyed there in an attempt to heal a rift between the Jedi Order and the Galactic Alliance, two of these ships directed the Millennium Falcon to the Senate Building. At least one was assigned to the Starfighter Command contingent on Rimsaw Station, orbiting the Wild Space planet of Kuratooine, in 44 ABY. Bearing the gray markings of Starfighter Command, the Aleph was deployed to the planet to support Colonel Kadana Sorrel in her investigation of rogue General Stavin Thaal during Wraith Squadron's campaign to root him out.
Behind the scenes
The Aleph-class starfighter was introduced in Legacy of the Force: Betrayal by Aaron Allston, the first novel in the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series. Since then, the fighter has also made appearances in three more of Allston's novels: Legacy of the Force: Fury and the Fate of the Jedi novel Fate of the Jedi: Backlash, as well as X-Wing: Mercy Kill.
In The Written Word Hyperspace article, Hebrew letters are associated with the Sith language, and it is stated that the Aleph fighter looks similar to the Myke language letter Aleph. The name "Twee" partially came from Aaron Allston's favorite phony "Darth" name for Jacen Solo, "Darth Twee."
- Legacy of the Force: Betrayal (First appearance, simultaneous with Legacy of the Force: Betrayal audiobook)
- Legacy of the Force: Betrayal audiobook (First appearance, simultaneous with Legacy of the Force: Betrayal)
- Legacy of the Force: Fury
- Legacy of the Force: Fury audiobook
- Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
- Fate of the Jedi: Backlash audiobook
- X-Wing: Mercy Kill
- X-Wing: Mercy Kill audiobook