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"If they're actually building these in numbers, our pilots won't stand a chance."
"And neither will the Rebellion."
―Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus[src]

The TIE/D Defender, commonly known as the TIE Defender and referred to as the TIE Defender project when it was in development, was an advanced experimental TIE line starfighter manufactured by Sienar Fleet Systems for the Imperial Navy of the Galactic Empire. Unlike previous TIE models, the starfighter featured a hyperdrive as well as deflector shields, and was easily recognized by its three wings mounted around an aft section of the cockpit. These specifications made the fighter much more difficult to destroy than standard TIE fighters.

The TIE Defender was considered a fighter-bomber; it was armed with heavy cannons and missiles. The ship was introduced as a result of Grand Admiral Thrawn's new fighter initiative at the Imperial Factory on Lothal in the year 2 BBY, launched to deal with the growing rebel threat, and was supported by both Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and Emperor Palpatine. As the project was to be less expensive than Project Stardust, and due to the constant delays of Director Orson Callan Krennic, many Imperials started to consider using the fundings of Project Stardust for Thrawn's TIE/D Defender instead. However, after Governor Arihnda Pryce destroyed Lothal's fuel depot to kill Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus, the project was halted indefinitely.

Although it never saw widespread use during the Galactic Civil War, many of its design features were later incorporated into the TIE/sf space superiority fighter and TIE/vn space superiority fighter of the First Order, the Empire's successor.


"Get out of there, both of you. I know that ship. It's a prototype TIE Defender. It's armed with heavy cannons and shields."
―Ezra Bridger[src]
TIED Defender Schematics-SW Rebels-An Inside Man

TIE/D Defender schematics

Like the rest of the TIE line starfighters,[1] the TIE/D Defender featured a ball-shaped cockpit module and solar array wings. However, while the standard TIE/ln space superiority starfighter and many other TIE variants, including the TIE/IN interceptor and the TIE Advanced x1, had two parallel wings to either side of the pilot module, the TIE/D Defender had three wings mounted around an aft section of the cockpit.[3] It also included deflector shields and a hyperdrive, new features for TIE fighters. The fighter was too fast for Y-wing starfighters and armed with six heavy laser cannons[6] and concussion missiles[5]—causing high damage over a moderate area.[3] Some TIE/Ds featured six additional missiles and red markings on their wings,[12] similar to some elite TIE interceptors.[13]

As development of the TIE Defender progressed, a new, faster and stronger variant was produced, which was classified as the TIE Defender Elite, with the prototype being tested by Commander Vult Skerris. The speed and maneuverability of this craft was drastically increased compared to the earlier Defender prototypes, along with stronger shields, better hyperdrive, and the addition of six missiles mounted onto the wings.[12]


Thrawn's new initiativeEdit

"A new fighter? Difficult to see how one small ship will change much."
"Agent, victory and defeat are often determined by the smallest detail."
ISB Agent Alexsandr Kallus and Grand Admiral Thrawn[src]
Spectres discover TIE Defender

The rebels examine the stolen TIE/D Defender schematics.

In the year 2 BBY,[10] the Galactic Empire, at the instigation of Grand Admiral Thrawn, began preparations to mass produce TIE Defenders at the Imperial Factory on the planet Lothal. With the help of Ryder Azadi's Lothal resistance, the Spectres stole the starfighter's schematics. Upon seeing the Defender's specifications, Captain Hera Syndulla of Phoenix Cell feared that if the Empire were to mass produce them, their pilots wouldn't have a chance against them.[7]

Thrawn's project was supported by high-ranking Imperial officials, such as Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and Grand Admiral Balanhai Savit.[14] Although most of the Empire's R&D funding was tied up in Project Stardust, supervised by Director Orson Krennic, Tarkin and other Imperial leaders had become dissatisfied with its progress, which had turned into a costly operation while yielding little results. This allowed Thrawn and Tarkin to acquire the funding necessary to begin production of the TIE Defender on Lothal.[15][16]

Chasing Mon MothmaEdit

Kassius Konstantine: "Through the nebula?"
Arihnda Pryce: "Our capital ships can't follow her."
Thrawn: "Precisely. So I've readied my new prototype and our best pilot to hunt down and capture this rogue senator."
―Admiral Konstantine, Governor Pryce and Grand Admiral Thrawn on planning to capture Senator Mon Mothma[src]
Nebula fight

The TIE/D Defender firing at the rebel ships in the Archeon Nebula.

Thrawn's fighter initiative was able to produce a prototype for the TIE Defender in a short amount of time, and it was first used during a mission to capture the rebel senator Mon Mothma. The Ghost crew transported the senator through the Archeon Nebula to avoid Imperial capital ships. Thrawn then tasked the TIE fighter pilot Vult Skerris to pilot the prototype and flush the rebels out into the open, with the assistance of two TIE Interceptors. The experimental fighter proved to be very effective against the rebel pilots, as Skerris easily destroyed three Y-wing starfighters of Gold Squadron. The rebels then attempted to defeat Skerris by getting close to a forming star in the nebula, but the ship was able to withstand the extreme temperature which burned up the TIE Interceptors. Eventually, the rebel pilots Ezra Bridger and Jon "Dutch" Vander managed to disable the prototype and escape by hitting the ship with an ion cannon.[6]

Vader's supportEdit

After completing their mission to Batuu, Darth Vader spoke to Thrawn about the Defender. He informed Thrawn that he believed the Defender was an excellent ship and that he would speak to the Emperor on behalf of the project. Vader informed Thrawn that the ship, however, needed to be faster and more heavily armed then it currently was at the moment. The ship's controls also needed to be simpler to handle. Thrawn thanked the Sith Lord for his input and assured him that he would relay the Sith Lord's recommendations to the facility on Lothal once they had returned to Coruscant.[17]

A new prototypeEdit

"My contacts tell me this new prototype is even tougher than the one you've already encountered. More powerful engines. Upgraded targeting computer."
Ryder Azadi[src]

Circa 1 BBY,[18] a new prototype, the TIE/D Defender Elite, was produced on Lothal,[19] adding Vader's recommendations.[17] This model had superior speed, maneuverability, shields, and weapons. One TIE Defender Elite was stolen by members of the Spectres, who had recently returned to Lothal. Thrawn activated the TIE's kill switch, causing the ship to crash, however the Spectres were able to salvage the ship's hyperdrive and flight data recorder.[12] Eventually, the flight data recorder made its way to the Rebel Alliance and they decided to launch an attack on Lothal.[20] In the ensuing battle, another TIE Defender Elite was used by Skerris, but was shot down by the rebels and crashed into a Arquitens-class command cruiser, which in turn crashed into the bridge tower of a Imperial I-class Star Destroyer.[21]

Project in perilEdit

"Your TIE Defender program is at risk. Orson Krennic has been quite persuasive about diverting the funding to his own project: Stardust."
"The Emperor has assured me that he supports my project."
"In my view, Director Krennic's project has been nothing but expenses and excuses for years on end. If construction of the Defender is to continue, you must make your case directly to the Emperor himself. I have already arranged the meeting."
"I'll leave immediately, Moff Tarkin."
―Grand Moff Tarkin and Grand Admiral Thrawn discuss the continued support for the TIE Defender program.[src]
TIE Defender Elite FotD

Thrawn's TIE Defender Elite

After the failed attack on Lothal and the capture of General Hera Syndulla, Tarkin contacted Thrawn, telling him that Krennic had been arguing strongly in favor of his project and that the TIE Defender program's funding was at risk of being pulled away to fund the continued construction of the Death Star. In order to persuade the Emperor to continue supporting the TIE Defender, Tarkin arranged a meeting with the Emperor for Thrawn, who immediately departed the planet.[15]

Soon after his depature, a rescue of Syndulla was attempted by the remaining rebels on the planet. Although Governor of Lothal Arihnda Pryce was successful in cornering the rebels as they made their escape through the factory's fuel depot, her determination to stop them led her to order the destruction of the depot. The resulting explosion resulted in the death of rebel leader and Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus, dealing a crippling blow to the rebels but an even bigger one to the Empire. With the fuel depot destroyed, the factory was instantly shut down and production of the TIE/D Defenders was brought to an indefinite halt. With the production halted, the funding for the Defender was instead given to Project Stardust.[15][22]

Galactic Civil WarEdit

Starship Graveyard Jakku SWDA

The wreck of a TIE Defender

At least one Defender flew during the Battle of Jakku and was destroyed, crashing into the Graveyard of Giants.[11]


Although the TIE/D never saw widespread use during the Galactic Civil War, its nature was revived by First Order tacticians who saw it as a versatile attack craft to throw at New Republic forces. Many of its features were incorporated into the TIE/sf space superiority fighter, which were later refined in the TIE/vn space superiority fighter.[9]

Behind the scenesEdit

"For those of us who remember playing the TIE Fighter game, it's a great ship. It's fast, it's got shields, it's got a hyperdrive. It sort of evens the odds and you don't need hundreds and hundreds upon them to defeat just a small number of Rebel starfighters. It evens the odds between the versatility of an X-wing fighter and the limited capabilities of a TIE fighter."
Pablo Hidalgo[src]
TIE Defender concept

TIE/D Defender concept art for Star Wars Rebels.

The TIE/D Defender originated in the Star Wars Legends video game Star Wars: TIE Fighter by LucasArts, where it was depicted as the top-of-the-line Imperial fighter model,[23] released in July 1994.[24] The fighter was incorporated into canon upon its inclusion in the mobile strategy game Star Wars: Commander[3] in late November 2014.[25] Additionally, it was later included in the Star Wars Battlefront video game as a vehicle power-up, along with the release of the Death Star expansion pack.[26] The TIE Defender was also featured in the third season of Star Wars Rebels animated television series, as the fighter's schematics appeared in "An Inside Man"[7] (the tenth episode),[27] and the fighter itself later appeared in "Secret Cargo"[6] (the eighteenth episode).[28] According to the Rebels crew, the Defender had seemed a philosophical departure for the Empire, pouring such resources into a small fighter craft, but with a rather unconventional Imperial like Thrawn backing the project, it made sense for them to introduce the fighter into the show.[29][30]

Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles states the TIE defender as the first TIE to have a hyperdrive and deflector shields; however, the TIE Advanced v1 and the TIE Advanced x1 had them before.

TIE Fighter Owners' Workshop Manual calls the cockpit guns laser cannons, too, while these are the warhead launchers as proved by the Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles and the Manual's texts themselves.



Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ultimate Star Wars
  2. StarWars-DatabankII TIE defender in the Databank (backup link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Star Wars: Commander
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 TIE Fighter Owners' Workshop Manual
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "Secret Cargo"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "An Inside Man"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Star Wars: The Rebel Files
  9. 9.0 9.1 Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Incredible Cross-Sections
  10. 10.0 10.1 TIE Fighter Owners' Workshop Manual states that Grand Admiral Thrawn began the TIE/D Defender project two years before the completion of the first Death Star. Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates the completion of the Death Star to 0 BBY, meaning the TIE/D Defender was first used in 2 BBY.
  11. 11.0 11.1 SW Destiny Template Star Wars: Destiny – Awakenings (Card: Starship Graveyard—Jakku)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "Flight of the Defender"
  13. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "The Antilles Extraction"
  14. Thrawn: Treason
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "Jedi Night"
  16. Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide
  17. 17.0 17.1 Thrawn: Alliances
  18. The trivia guide for Star Wars Rebels: Heroes of Mandalore states that Bo-Katan Kryze was redesigned to advance the character's age by "18 years or so". As she was last seen was in The Lawless, which was dated to 19 BBY by Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, it can be assumed that the events of Heroes of Mandalore and later episodes to take place in approximately 1 BBY.
  19. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "The Occupation"
  20. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "Crawler Commandeers"
  21. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "Rebel Assault"
  22. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels – "DUME"
  23. Star Wars: TIE Fighter
  24. LucasArtsIcon The History of LucasArts Part Two: The Classics, 1990 - 1994 on (backup link)
  25. Star Wars: Commander Wiki Guide. IGN. Archived from the original on August 23, 2016. Retrieved on March 5, 2017.
  26. Welcome to the Death Star. EA Star Wars. (2016-09-19). Archived from the original on November 11, 2016. Retrieved on March 2, 2017.
  27. SWCustom-2011 An Inside Man Episode Guide on
  28. SWCustom-2011 Secret Cargo Episode Guide on
  29. SWCustom-2011 Rebels Recon: Inside "An Inside Man" on
  30. SWCustom-2011 An Inside Man Trivia Gallery on (image 4 of 4)

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