- "These weapons of war would be awe-inspiring, if they were not so terrifying."
- ―Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, after the AT-TE's official unveiling
The All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE), sometimes called a tank by clone troopers, was an all terrain assault walker developed for the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) during the Clone Wars. The walker was used for numerous tasks including, but not limited to, transporting platoons of clone troopers on the battlefield and attacking enemy installations. The AT-TE's rear compartment contained computer hologram communication devices and space for troopers to stand during transportation. On the back end of the machine was a large door that allowed for quick deployment of troopers in a battle. Some versions of the walker were able to scale vertical cliffs, as evidenced in the Battle of Teth. The typical arsenal of an AT-TE included a top-mounted mass-driver cannon, along with six other laser cannons placed strategically around the outside of the vehicle.
AT-TEs were first used in action during the First Battle of Geonosis in 22 BBY during the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Due to the vehicle's success in the battle, Rothana designed numerous other walkers for use by the GAR. The walker served in countless battles across the galaxy and eventually became part of the Imperial Army after the transformation of the Republic into the Galactic Empire. The AT-TE was a precursor to the Empire's All Terrain Armored Transport.
- "Trampling target."
- ―An AT-TE driver
The AT-TE was a multi-purpose assault vehicle capable of tasks ranging from the transportation of clone trooper platoons around a battlefield to full-scale attacks upon enemy installations. The vehicle performed most admirably in support roles that involved providing immediate cover fire for battalions of soldiers. AT-TEs were often deployed in large numbers to overwhelm the enemy through sheer volume of firepower.
The rear internal compartment was cramped and contained a number of computer consoles which included a holographic communication system allowing for representations of commanders to be projected inside the vehicle. On the standard model, troopers were located in the forward and rear compartments with large doors present in the back which opened, allowing soldiers to exit the vehicle. A top door allowed a soldier to observe the battlefield from the top of the walker.
An AT-TE was impervious to ion damage due to built-in electromagnetic shielding. Its average speed was 60 kph (37.2 mph). This plodding pace allowed it to penetrate energy shields, a feat that was impossible for repulsorlift craft. Effective in numerous terrains and environments, some models of the walker were even capable of scaling vertical cliffs, similar to the later UT-AT transport. During the Battle of Bothawui, it was demonstrated that the AT-TE was even useful in space combat, when a contingent of the walkers were deployed onto asteroids to ambush a Separatist fleet. AT-TEs contained enough fuel to stride at full speed for over 500 kilometers and possessed enough scrubbed air and military rations to last its crew for three weeks out in the harsh conditions of the battlefield.
Seven specially-trained crew members were needed in order for the vehicle to function properly. The pilot, who was normally the AT-TE commander, worked the six legs of the walker, while a spotter who sat above the pilot utilized several sensor stations to ascertain the locations of hostile units and primary objectives. The spotter then had to relay this information to the four gunners nestled at gun stations within the heavily-armored hull of the walker. A final crew member had to sit behind the controls of the heavy cannon atop the AT-TE, partially exposed to enemy fire. Ten clone trooper passengers could be held in each section of the walker (20 total). In addition, an IM-6 battlefield medical droid was located in the back of the AT-TE for emergency medical treatment.
The largest weapon was the enormous mass-driver cannon. This cannon could be loaded with an array of heavy energy weapons and solid shells, depending on the specifications of the mission. The payloads of the gun could range from burrowing bunker busters to heat-seeking projectiles to sonic charges. Whilst its range was considerable, it had a comparatively slow rate of fire and variable accuracy.
Six smaller laser cannons were strategically placed along the vehicle. Four were located in a square pattern around the cockpit, while two more were placed in the rear to cover the flanks and help secure drop off points for the platoons contained within the walker. These troopers were essential to the survival of the AT-TE when the walker came under fire from enemy infantry units that were too small to be accurately targeted by the main cannons.
Regardless of its heavy armor, the AT-TE was not invulnerable. Due to weak points in the underbelly of the vehicle, a single direct hit by a rocket from a Hailfire droid was capable of disabling an AT-TE, and they were also highly vulnerable to air attacks. Its high silhouette made it easier to target by enemies. One of the more obvious design flaws was that it was low to the ground, so the turret gunner's protection of the vulnerable underside was limited. The low ground clearance of this vehicle also made it susceptible to mines exploding beneath it. This flaw was eliminated in the later AT-AT walker. AT-TEs could be constructed at mech factories.
Special sockets for the AT-TE were created on-board Acclamator-class assault ships. While any Republic spacecraft could transport these walkers through space, a variant of the LAAT/i gunship, the LAAT/c, had to be used to ferry these vehicles down to battlefields.
A variant model of AT-TE was modified to carry additional vehicles. The rear-ward section of the walker could house two AT-RT walkers in storage configuration, along with their riders. These were then lowered onto the battlefield via a lowering platform, their legs unfolding after the disembarking and the AT-RTs could be deployed into battle in seconds.
Another AT-TE variant held facilities for a small mobile command center. This variant served a similar purpose to the later tracked PX-4 Mobile Command Base, commanding and coordinating the movements of columns of other AT-TEs. Additional models were produced throughout the Clone Wars as Rothana continued modifying their design. Stock AT-TEs were even capable of being upgraded to Heavy All Terrain Tactical Enforcers.
During the time of the Galactic Empire, some AT-TEs had parts of their rear side-armor removed, enabling embarked troops to shoot at enemies on the sides. This added to the vehicle's lateral defenses, but also increased their vulnerability to grenades and other short-range weaponry. Some Imperialized walkers had most of their top armor and offensive armament removed (such as the projectile cannon) so that they could be used to transport large amounts of cargo.
The Clone Wars
The AT-TE design was inspired by the arctic horny whelmer of Rothana. The AT-TE was first built as a patrol vehicle for mining companies operating on distant worlds who were in need of a vehicle that could help maintain order. When war loomed and Rothana Heavy Engineering gained military contracts, they revised the design and modified it for combat duty. The Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, when the design had been officially unveiled, admitted to the KDY executives that the walker's design invoked terror.
In the years following the walker's success at the first Battle of Geonosis and other conflicts in the Clone Wars, Rothana created the AT-HE and AT-AT walkers to supplement the earlier design. They also began tweaking the AT-TE design itself, replacing standard legs with longer ones on some of the walkers, presumably to increase their gunners' line-of-sight and to more easily avoid obstacles. Similar walker designs included the UT-AT and the AT-OT.
During the Clone Wars, the AT-TE was used heavily in many campaigns, especially in the Outer Rim Sieges. In some campaigns, they were used in conjunction with AT-OTs and AT-APs. Clone troopers and Jedi generals would often refer to the AT-TEs as "tanks" when discussing deployment and strategic use.
A division of AT-TEs were deployed in the Republics defense of Christophsis. After the traitorous Slick destroyed some of the walkers in the Republics staging area, the division was left 3 Walkers down for the Republic's first engagement against the Separatist forces. They managed to fight of the first wave, but many walkers were destroyed and only a couple remained for the second wave. The Republic forces eventually won the battle, and fresh AT-TEs were deployed to the planet to support the regiments protecting the planet from future assaults.
Many AT-TEs were deployed for the Liberation of Ryloth campaign. As General Windu attempted a push to the capital city of Lessu, the walkers came under fire from enemy AATs. 3 walkers were destroyed, but Windu managed to save one of the drivers. The AATs were destroyed by the newly deployed Lightning Squad. As the General pushed into the city, the walkers provided fire support from the nearby ridge over-looking the city. After the Liberation, the remaining walkers took part in a special victory parade.
Whilst attempting to rescue the Guardian of the Kyber Crystal, Bolla Ropal, from Cad Bane in the Saleucami system, Admiral Yularen informed General Skywalker they were not prepared for boarding another ship because they had no boarding craft. Skywalker soon came up with a plan to use AT-TEs as landing craft to board the Bounty Hunter's ship utilizing their Zero-G capabilities. They were dropped from the lower hanger of General Skywalker's flag ship and used their magnetic feet to clasp to the enemy ship.
AT-TEs were used heavily during the second Geonosian Campaign. After facing greater anti-aircraft fire than first anticipated, Commander Jet told Cody to "Get the Tanks Down!". The LAAT/c's dropped the walkers in a circle formation, with LAAT/i's filling the gaps. This defensive circle made their position easier to defend. The Walkers fought off wave after wave of AATs and Geonosians until reinforcements arrived. AT-TE 636 provided cover fire for Waxer and Boil as they rescued General Obi-Wan Kenobi from his downed Gunship. Later in the battle, the AT-TEs were used to destroy the ray shield generator protecting Poggle the Lesser's new weapons factory. After this, the walkers were confronted by the new Separatist Super tanks, and proved no match for this new threat.
During the First Battle of Felucia, two AT-TE's were used to fight alongside a Juggernaut that was the command vehicle of Jedi Commander Ahsoka Tano. The vehicles were lost to enemy fire, though General Skywalker managed to rescue his Padawan and most of her men. Later, the droids mounted a second assault on Felucia. AT-TEs provide fire support from afar for the Republic forces assaulting the Droid Camp.
During the Galactic Civil War, surviving AT-TEs were still used by the Empire, mainly in campaigns in the Outer Rim Territories. The walkers no longer held a primary status in military campaigns, but were sometimes used for additional fire-support alongside larger assault vehicles, including AT-AT walkers and Juggernaut tanks.
Some were deployed onto backwater worlds like Maridun and Jabiim, where they were used only for logistical purposes and not as front-line combat vehicles. Many of those walkers were adapted to fit new mission roles and planetary environments. The walkers were still used for front-line combat on more remote, less technologically advanced worlds like those in the Atoan system.
Aside from the Empire, the AT-TE had found itself in the usage of some criminal gangs. One particular instance was a Weequay gang at the Sriluur spaceport who had somehow managed to get a hold of one, and proceeded to use it to extort payments from visiting spacers. This particular model ended up significantly damaged by Han Solo and his first mate Chewbacca, who proceeded to blow off its back legs via a concussion missile. Solo later recounted this event when reviewing the field manual for the Imperial Military, the Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide.
Behind the scenes
The AT-TEs are never named on screen during their appearance in Attack of the Clones, but they are named in supplemental materials and video games in which they appear. Unlike its successor, the AT-AT, the AT-TE isn't depicted as being anywhere near as unstoppable. During their first appearance, it was shown they could be destroyed by a single shot from a heavily armed CIS vehicle, though in video games, especially the Battlefront series, they are far more durable. In Star Wars: Battlefront, they serve as mobile spawn points. In the 2002 video game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns, All Terrain Tactical Enforcers serve as the Galactic Republic assault mech and are constructable at mech factories in single-player and multiplayer.
Envisioned by Concept Design Supervisor Ryan Church as the technological predecessor of the AT-AT walkers seen in The Empire Strikes Back, the AT-TE walker was a late addition in the Episode II post-production mix. It was then the job of Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman's group to animate the CGI AT-TEs. Tom St. Amand, one of the animators, had previously worked on the stop-motion animation of the AT-AT walkers back during "Empire's" production, and was able to offer his insight into replicating a similar look and feel in CGI. During production, the AT-TE walker was identified as "clone walker."
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Notes and references