- "Wipe this pathetic planet from the face of the galaxy!"
- ―Darth Malak
Orbital bombardment was a military strategy used many times throughout the history of the galaxy, in which a starship or space-based machine bombarded a planet heavily. Unlike a Base Delta Zero, which completely devastated a planet, orbital bombardment could be made more precise or specific.
The most effective means of doing this was using several capital ships to target a specific area on a planet. Although such an action was expected to cause collateral damage, some gunnery crews were reputed to be skilled to the degree of pin-point accuracy. Regardless, there were many factions which used orbital bombardment. The Mandalorians were very adept at using this in the Mandalorian Wars. The planet Telos IV was also attacked by orbital bombardment. Darth Malak used this to attack the planet of Taris, while looking for Bastila Shan and also bombarded the Enclave on Dantooine, although most of the Jedi survived.
The Confederacy of Independent Systems bombarded the ecumenopolis of Humbarine in a Base Delta Zero operation during the Clone Wars, melting the crust of the planet. The Galactic Republic also engaged in orbital bombardments and made use of the tactic to destroy deeply entrenched Separatist armies.
During the Imperial Period, Emperor Palpatine commenced a Base Delta Zero on the planet Caamas with the help of a group of Bothan infiltrators. The bombardment would result in complete, total destruction of the planet, and with only a few remaining Caamasi species. Years later, it would led to a political crisis. Captain Thrawn also initiated a bombardment on the planet Oben which would mark the end of the conflict between the Kaleesh and Empire.
Orbital bombardment was frequently used in the Galactic Civil War, and was a factor during the Battle of Kashyyyk. The planet of Ralltiir was subjected to orbital bombardment for harboring Rebel scientists. Darth Vader planned to use this strategy against Echo Base on Hoth. However, the planetary shield and planetary ion cannon of Echo Base enabled the Rebels to hold off the bombardment and evacuate much of their equipment and personnel. Often, strike teams and special forces would be dispatched to the planet in order to sabotage such defenses prior to the initiation of the bombardment.
While a common tactic for the Imperial Navy—in fact, some sources imply that Star Destroyers were optimized for such attacks—the New Republic Defense Force was reluctant to engage in orbital bombardment, for fear of civilian casualties. During the Yuuzhan Vong War, however, General Wedge Antilles ordered the Lusankya to bombard Borleias in an attempt to save the New Republic's ground base during the Battles of Borleias, and Admiral Traest Kre'fey also made orbital bombardment one of his standing orders in the prelude to the Battle of Ebaq 9.
Orbital bombardment was also employed during the Second Galactic Civil War; Colonel Jacen Solo in the Battle of Kashyyyk opened fire on the planet with the long-range turbolasers of the Anakin Solo. His attack succeeded in its objective of initiating massive, self-sustaining forest fires; Solo intended the devastation to serve as a warning for those who might betray the Galactic Alliance.
Behind the scenes
Orbital bombardment appears in Star Wars: Rebellion as a strategic combat action allowing the player to use a fleet unit in orbit around a planet to eliminate the opponents' ground units located on that planet. This option is called planetary bombardment in the game. In Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption, orbital bombardments are available to both the Rebellion (ion bombardment) and the Empire (turbolaser) as well as the Zann Consortium (ion then plasma bombardment).
Orbital bombardment appeared in all of the Battlefront series. In the first game, recon droids could signal for them, in the second, a frigate on Hoth during the final campaign mission was bombarded, and in Renegade Squadron and Elite Squadron, a special gun would tag a location for bombardment.
- Imperial Sourcebook
- Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook
- "Imperial Garrisons" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 12
- Introductory Adventure Game
- Pirates & Privateers
- Lords of the Expanse
- "Alien Encounters: The Shard" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 15
- Hideouts & Strongholds
- Alien Encounters
- Star Wars: Rebellion: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- Ultimate Alien Anthology
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: Prima Official Game Guide
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption Expansion: Prima Official Game Guide
- Starships of the Galaxy, Saga Edition
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- The Clone Wars Campaign Guide
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – Agents of Deception
- Galaxy at War
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – Threat of the Conqueror (Card: Orbital Bombardment)
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: The Card Game – Core Set (Card: Orbital Bombardment)
- Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook
- Suns of Fortune
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook
- Star Wars: The Card Game – It Binds All Things (Card: The Admiral's Assault) (Picture only)