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"Based upon data provided by Captain Syndulla, the TIE Defender Elite possesses speed, weapons, and shields superior to any fighter in our fleet."
"Can we destroy it?"
"In single ship-to-ship combat, unlikely. Our analysts have yet to find a weakness in its design."
―Jan Dodonna and Mon Mothma[4]

The TIE/D Defender Elite was an upgraded model of the TIE/d "Defender" Multi-Role Starfighter. It was developed in 1 BBY, at the Galactic Empire's facilities on Lothal. Like normal Defenders, the Elite had three wings, heavy cannons, and a hyperdrive. However, it was much faster and had even more durable shielding. Sabine Wren speculated that it could outclass the Spectres' ship, the Ghost, in terms of speed. It was also equipped with a kill switch, as a security measure.


"If someone of Ezra Bridger's modest skill can best three trained pilots, our new fighter will give us an overwhelming advantage against the rebels."
―Grand Admiral Thrawn on the TIE Defender Elite[2]

A TIE Defender Elite docked at the Lothal Imperial airfield

Following the battle against Grysk forces, in which Darth Vader flew a TIE/D Defender, the Sith Lord conveyed to Grand Admiral Thrawn his support of the ship and promised the Chiss warrior that he would put in a good word about the program with the Emperor but also gave his input on improvements that Thrawn that could implement on the fighter, which included that it needed to be faster, more heavily armed, and much simpler to control. The Grand Admiral transmitted the instructions to the Lothal factory in charge of the program when they returned to Coruscant.[5]

The prototype model of the TIE/D Defender Elite was stolen by Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren when they were caught attempting to steal the flight data recorder of the prototype while it was at the Lothal Imperial airfield for a planned test flight. Wren used the Elite to destroy most of the other ships at the airfield before she and Bridger escaped. Unbeknownst to Wren, who thought of using the Elite's hyperdrive to get the stolen flight data recorder to Alliance High Command on Yavin 4, the hyperdrive was deactivated. Grand Admiral Thrawn decided to use the theft as an opportunity to test the prototype's capabilities, and had Commander Vult Skerris send three of his pilots on TIE Interceptors to intercept the stolen fighter. Bridger, flying the prototype model, killed all three pilots, which Thrawn saw as a validation of the fighter's capabilities, given that Bridger was a modest pilot, in the Grand Admiral's opinion. Thrawn then allowed Governor Arihnda Pryce to activate the kill switch, causing the fighter to crash. However, Wren had discovered the switch while she was deactivating the Elite's homing beacon, and immediately told Bridger to land. The Elite lost two of its wings, but Wren managed to prevent the third one from detaching, and the fighter crashed on it. Bridger and Wren escaped into the wilderness with the flight recorder and the Elite's hyperdrive, which they intended to install on Ryder Azadi's UT-60D U-wing starfighter/support craft as a replacement for the ship's non-functional one.[2]


Vult Skerris's TIE Defender Elite

Skerris was given a new Defender Elite, painted with yellow highlights like on his uniform, to fly in battle. He did so during the Rebel Alliance's attack on Lothal. Skerris killed two pilots, Cleat and Duke, but was outmaneuvered by General Hera Syndulla, who was leading the attack. She lured Skerris into the line of fire of Thrawn's flagship, the Chimaera. The Star Destroyer's fire took out both of their shields, and Hera then fired upon the Chimaera's sensor array before flying through the resulting smoke cloud. Skerris was forced to fly around the array, due to the Defender Elite having a far wider profile than Hera's T-65B X-wing starfighter. When he arrived, Hera was waiting and fired on his momentarily unshielded fighter, blowing off two of its wings and sending Skerris spiraling out of control. He crashed into an Arquitens-class command cruiser, which then in turn, crashed into a Star Destroyer, shearing off the capital ship's bridge superstructure.[6]

The program was placed on indefinite hold when Governor Pryce destroyed the fuel reserves to kill Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus, angering Thrawn and causing him to mark her for death as punishment.[7] Furthermore, funding for the Defender program was redistributed to Director Orson Callan Krennic's Project Stardust until it was complete.[8]

The Defender Elite had six more missiles than the regular Defender as well as red markings on the wings.[2]

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TIE Defender Elite FotD

A TIE/D Defender Elite


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 TIE Fighter Owners' Workshop Manual
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Flight of the Defender"
  3. 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 take place in approximately 1 BBY. As "Flight of the Defender" takes place shortly after Heroes of Mandalore, it can be assumed it is also around the year 1 BBY.
  4. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Crawler Commandeers"
  5. Thrawn: Alliances
  6. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Rebel Assault"
  7. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "DUME"
  8. Thrawn: Treason