The Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry (LAAT/i), often referred to as the Republic attack gunship or Republic Gunship, was a specialized gunship designed for aerial-based support and infantry transportation. It was produced by Rothana Heavy Engineering and used by the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars. The Galactic Empire also used it for a brief period after the conclusion of the war.
The LAAT/i was affectionately known as the "larty" by clone troopers.
The LAAT/i was a repulsorlift infantry transport capable of carrying up to thirty troopers. Secondary functions included reconnaissance, direct fire support, search-and-recovery, and low-altitude air-to-ground and air-to-air strikes against vehicles ranging from airspeeders to starfighters.
In addition to its trooper complement, housed on a deckplate protected by drooping wings and a sliding side door, the LAAT/i could carry four military speeder bikes in an aft-deployable rack. The crew complement comprised a clone trooper pilot and co-pilot/forward gunner in the hunchbacked cockpit, and two auxiliary gunners stationed in pinpoint composite-beam turrets extending on articulated arms from the troop cabin. An IM-6 battlefield medical droid was commonly carried aboard in an emergency locker. In the event of emergencies, the cockpit capsule could separate from the main craft to act as an escape pod.
The LAAT/i was a fully armed gun platform, with a complete arsenal of weaponry that consisted of three anti-personnel laser turrets, two forward-facing, one covering the stern hatch; two top-mounted mass-driver missile launchers fed by rear-mounted ordnance belts and commonly loaded with short-range homing missiles, HE (high explosive), HEAP (high explosive armor-piercing), and APF (anti-personnel fragmentation) rounds; four composite-beam, pin-point laser turrets, (on some models, the slot for these Balls were inter-changeable with floodlights) two of which were automated bubble-turrets located on either wing; and eight light air-to-air rockets stowed on the underside of each wing.
Infantry gunships were equipped with atmospheric containment shielding and could be deployed from space, yet could not reach orbit altitude without a carrier vessel. The LAAT/i's optimal fighting range was in the lower atmosphere, where they could reach speeds in excess of six hundred kilometers per hour. A single Acclamator-class assault ship could carry up to eighty LAAT-series gunships, while a Venator-class Star Destroyer had space for half that complement. The LAAT/i was highly effective but lacked large amounts of armor making it a vulnerable target.
When approaching a target, the main cabin would light up red, a visual indicator to stand by, when troopers would conduct last-moment preparations including checking their ammunition and communication systems. Once touching down, the red lights would change to green, signaling clearance to debark.
Within the main cabin were various handles attached to cables hanging from the ceiling of the main cabin. When the gunship's hatches were open, clone troopers would hold on to these to help keep their balance while the gunship was in flight. In the case of rapid deployment, clone troopers could hang on to these as the cables were lowered to the ground for quick deployment so the LAAT/i wouldn't need to land. However, during this process, both the clone troopers and gunship were vulnerable to enemy fire, so landing and debarking in the regular manner was the more common way to deploy troops.
The assault gunships were capable of being fitted out for stealth missions by the addition of engine baffles and shields, an electromagnetic emission and heat signature-reducing black polymer, as well as the removal of its weaponry. Those modifications made the main hold almost sound-proof.
New Sith Wars
Odionate forces used gunships visually similar to the LAAT. They were sometimes carried into battle by a ship that was visually similar to the CR25 troop carrier. Kerra Holt, disguised as a member of the death cult Odion cultivated, travelled aboard one of these ships on a mission to Sarrassia.
An early LAAT design was used as a prisoner transport by the Jedi Order at least ten years before the Clone Wars, but the more familiar infantry version gained fame as an air assault vehicle during the war.
The LAAT/i was first deployed in a military operation at the First Battle of Geonosis, in 22 BBY where six gunships rescued the surviving Jedi from the Petranaki arena under the command of Jedi Master Yoda. The gunships proved valuable for the Republic during the battle, eliminating many Hardcell-class transports and clearing the battlefield of many Separatist armored units, especially Hailfire droids, which were proving deadly for the Republic AT-TEs.
Flights of LAAT/i gunships attempted to disable and destroy many of the fleeing Lucrehulk-class core ships on the battlefield. During the war, Jedi would occasionally pilot the gunships, as demonstrated by Mace Windu at Geonosis and Obi-Wan Kenobi at the Battle of Thule. Infantry gunships saw continued use throughout the war, with some stationed at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. They would prove pivotal for the Republic many times throughout the brutal conflict, helping win many battles. At some point, the Confederacy unveiled their answer to the LAAT, the Mechanized Assault Flyer, followed by the HMP droid gunship, both of which matched the LAAT in terms of firepower. At some point during the Clone Wars, a least one LAAT/i was deployed with a Clone Trooper unit that include BL-1707 on Lubang Minor, but ended up stranded there, of which the vehicle was later rediscovered by 1 ABY. Ultimately, remaining Republic LAAT/i gunships would be assimilated into the Imperial Army with the formation of the Galactic Empire. Eventually, the Empire would phase out the LAAT for various reasons,[source?] replacing them with the MAAT.
During the Clone Wars, many LAAT/i gunships were customized with special paintwork. The Muunilinst 10 had a special gunship assigned to them painted with a blue color scheme and the visage of a rancor across the nose of the ship.
Other gunships, some of which were also individually named, were painted with provocative or morale-boosting artwork on the nose of the ship. Some of the known customized gunships were the Lucky Lekku, Crumb Bomber, Spaceward Ho!, Bantha Poodoo, Plo's Bros, Separatist Nightmare, Bad Kitty, Dooku Boot and The Bug Stomper. There was also an LAAT/c gunship with a wampa painted on the nose.
Galactic Civil War
Early in the Galactic Civil War, a small anti-Imperial faction, led by former Jedi General Rahm Kota, found use for a LAAT/i during their attack on Imperial forces stationed on Felucia, shortly after the inhabitants of the planet were corrupted by the Dark side of the Force.
Later on, in the Galactic Civil War, the Rebel Alliance found several disabled, yet still functional, LAAT gunships. The Alliance used these vehicles to further their cause in overthrowing the Empire. When in use by the Rebels, they were known as either "Alliance Assault Craft" or "Rebel Assault Transports". Other rebel groups not affiliated with the Alliance would also come to rely on the aging military transports, like the Jaabimi and Kaminoan rebels.
During the Galactic Civil War, an Imperial storm commando named Sarkli, along with many other stormtroopers, landed in a canyon on Geonosis after a skirmish in the asteroid field with Rogue Squadron. Sarkli's escape pod landed near a LAAT/i gunship left over from the Clone Wars. The Imperials were attacked by B1-Series battle droids, also from the Clone Wars. Sarkli commandeered the LAAT/i in an attempt to escape the droids. Wedge Antilles, who had also crashed on Geonosis, fought his way through stormtroopers and droids and was attacked and almost killed by Sarkli when he came out of the chaos. The LAAT was severely damaged when Wedge took control of an E-Web heavy repeating blaster. Swearing revenge on Wedge, Sarkli crashed the LAAT/i into the canyon wall.
Rothana Heavy Engineering produced a number of LAAT variants, including the LAAT/c, a carrier gunship capable of delivering walkers and fighter tanks onto the battlefield; the LAAT/v with deck space for sixteen speeder bikes or eight military landspeeders; and a command variant commonly used by Advanced Recon Commandos. Some models lacked the bubble turrets on the sides of the deck, or had painting on the sides instead such as Kowakian monkey-lizards or Twi'leks. Non-standard paint schemes appeared more frequently on craft assigned to serve elite units such as ARC Troopers.
On units that had them, the side-mounted bubble turrets were mounted on armatures that normally held the forward half of the passenger bay doors. As the LAAT/i was equipped with an atmospheric pressure containment shield specifically for use in a vacuum, it was used for various actions in sub-orbital combat situations and also for boarding missions between carrier vessels and enemy cruisers in outer orbit and deep space battles. Bubble turrets were fitted to LAAT/i gunships engaged in combat above the atmospheric ceiling of planets and in space on numerous occasions. At least one longer-range voyage was undertaken by a LAAT/s during the Clone Wars, with bubble turrets fitted in conjunction with fully enclosing, sealed passenger/cargo bay doors. However, the craft crash-landed after atmospheric entry due to complications with weather conditions.
Behind the scenes
The LAAT was inspired by real-world helicopter gunships, notably the Soviet (now Russian) Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship.  The ARC LAAT/i's "nose art" was inspired by the decoration found on some real-world combat aircraft such as the Curtiss P-40 from the 1st AVG Flying Tigers.
LEGO manufactured three sets of the gunship, one in 2002 for Attack of the Clones and the second one in 2008 for Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The third, from 2013 is for Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. The first set includes four clone troopers, a droideka, two Super Battle Droids and a generic Human Jedi Knight. The vehicle has side bubble turrets, a gun rack and a medical center. The second variation includes Obi-Wan Kenobi, Plo Koon, Commander Cody, Asajj Ventress, and a clone trooper. The vehicle has a 74-Z Speeder and a Command Center. The escape pod has been replaced by a bacta tank, and the bubble turrets on each side are replaced with two troop bay doors. The second set also includes spy droids and flick-fire missiles. The third set includes a clone trooper pilot, a clone trooper captain, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padmé Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, two super battle droids, a speeder, and flick-fire missiles.
The 11th issue of Knight Errant featured ships that looked similar to LAATs. John Jackson Miller mentioned on his blog that the similarities between the later Republic technology and the ships on display was intentional.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
- LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
- Kowakian Monkey-Lizard
- Giant spiders are awesome....
- Always count your clones before take-off
- Star Wars: Republic Commando: Order 66
- LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles video game
- LEGO Star Wars: Microfighters video game
- Old Wounds (In flashback(s))
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections
- The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- The Official Star Wars Fact File
- Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition Core Rulebook
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Visual Guide
- Star Wars Battlefront: Prima Official Game Guide
- Star Wars: Battlefront II
- The New Essential Chronology places the First Battle of Geonosis, the start of the Clone Wars, in 22 BBY.
- Star Wars Battlefront II: Prima Official Game Guide
- Star Wars: Empire
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (film)
- "Speaking Silently"—Star Wars Insider 139
- Knight Errant: Escape 1
- Knight Errant: Escape 2
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (video game)
- Star Wars: Battlefront
- Empire 26
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- Star Wars: Clone Wars DVD commentary
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
- The Art of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
- John Jackson Miller's endnotes for Knight Errant Escape issue 1.