The Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry (LAAT/i), also referred to as the Republic Gunship, Republic attack gunship, Assault Gunship or LAATi, was one of the several models in the Low Altitude Assault Transport line of starships that mainly served as gunships and troop transports for the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars. Its role was to transport Clone troopers as well as offering air-to-ground and air-to-air support for the Galactic Republic against the Confederacy of Independent Systems. The LAAT/i gunship saw extensive use in numerous battles and campaigns of the Clone Wars. During the Imperial Era, the ships were used by both the Galactic Empire and Alliance to Restore the Republic.
The Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry gunship was a military repulsorcraft. Besides serving as an infantry transport, the LAAT/i gunship was also used to provide air-to-ground and air-to-air support for Republic forces. The front of the gunship had two double cockpit bubbles where the pilot and co-pilot/gunner sat in single file and could be sealed off from the rest of the gunship. A variety of equipment was located in the nose of the craft, including the flight computer and sensors.
The LAAT/i gunship was armed with a varied mix of complementary weaponry which could unleash considerable firepower. A pair of dorsal mass-driver missile launchers could fire a variety of ordance at up to hypersonic velocities and hit targets hiding over the horizon. These were fed by rear-mounted missile belts which utilized special frictionless material to load the weapons. Four composite-beam laser turrets provided for defense against airborne threats. Each turret had a wide field of rotation, but the composite-beam design allowed for precision aiming beyond a turret's physical rotation. Two of these were mounted in the wings and remotely controlled, while the other two extended out from the craft and were manually controlled by two gunners. Three anti-personnel laser cannon turrets—two mounted in the chin and one in the rear—were useful against infantry and other light ground targets. Each could vary the output on their laser shot to a maximum of five gigajoules. Lastly the gunship could carry eight light air-to-air rockets mounted beneath its wings.
Beneath a surface layer of superficial armor plating, the LAAT/i was equipped with an inner layer of powered, superdispersive armoring which would spread the impact of enemy fire across the entire hull. It could also use its laser turrets to shoot down enemy missiles. When faced with overwhelming enemy fire, the gunship could close its blast shields. In a crash, the LAAT could deploy fire retardant and both the cockpit canopy and side doors could be explosively blown off to allow escape. Additional emergency equipment included medical packs and armor repair kits, collapsible repulsor stretches, inflatable decontamination tents, and a IM-6 Battlefield Medical Droid.
A LAAT/i gunship could carry a full platoon of thirty clone troopers in its main hold. The use of powerful inertial compensators helped troopers to remain standing during their journey. It could also carry up to four speeder bikes. These were deployed from the tail ramp, with the rear laser turret providing covering fire during deployment.
The gunship's primary repulsor array was located along the bottom of the fuselage; additional altitude-control repulsors were mounted in the wings which, although not designed for aerodynamic lift, also helped to balance the craft. Designed specifically for maneuvering low in a planet's atmosphere, the LAAT/i was at an advantage when dogfighting starfighters below the altitude of mountains as the latter had to sacrifice their considerable speed advantage. While not originally designed for it, LAATs were later modified to allow for short trips in space.
LAAT/infantry gunships were first deployed during the First Battle of Geonosis in 22 BBY as part of the Grand Army of the Republic. LAAT/i gunships attacked the Petranaki Arena and rescued Senator Padmé Amidala and members of the Jedi Order from Count Dooku. LAAT/i gunships then saw action against the Separatist Droid Army alongside Low Altitude Assault Transport carriers and AT-TE walkers and proved instrumental in inflicting heavy damage on the Separatist droid forces. The Battle of Geonosis marked the beginning of the Clone Wars, the first large-scale galactic wide conflict in a millennium.
Republic gunships saw heavy use during the conflict, deploying troops to battlefronts like Teth and Umbara. During the last days of the war in 19 BBY, LAAT/i gunships saw service on numerous worlds including Kashyyyk and Utapau. Jedi Masters Mace Windu, Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin traveled on an LAAT/i gunship to confront Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who was the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Their failed attempt to arrest Palpatine led to the initiation of Order 66 and the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire.
Following the formation of the Galactic Empire, the remaining Assault Transports were absorbed into the Imperial Navy. During the Galactic Civil War, some LAAT/is were used by the Alliance to Restore the Republic against Imperial garrisons.
The Wookiees of the Kashyyyk resistance used LAAT/is leftover from the Clone Wars in defending their homeworld from Imperial subjugation; these particular gunships had their wings and missile launchers repainted yellow. By 5 ABY, a more advanced variant of the aging LAAT/i, the low-altitude Imperial transport, was in use; one of which was used by the remnant of the Galactic Empire led by Grand Moff Lozen Tolruck on Kashyyyk.
Behind the scenes
The ship first appeared in the 2002 film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, where it was referred to as the "Jedi attack helicopter" in pre-production. Star Wars creator George Lucas used news footage of helicopter-based infantry deployment as an inspiration for the design. The cockpit configuration in particular was inspired by the Russian Mil Mi-24 "Hind" attack helicopter.
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Exit from Endor" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures – "The Kyber Saber Crystal Chase"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Notes and references
- Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition
- Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles
- Star Wars: Commander
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Blue Shadow Virus"
- Rise of the Separatists
- Star Wars Complete Vehicles, New Edition
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars
- Kanan 8
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Hidden Enemy"
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Darkness on Umbara"
- Aftermath: Life Debt