- "Your generic TIE grunt is just plain suicidal. And the TIE Defender jockey is bloodthirsty. But the TIE Interceptor pilot, he's suicidal and bloodthirsty. When you see a squad of those maniacs flying your way, you'd better hope your hyperdrive is operational."
- ―Kyle Katarn
The TIE/IN starfighter, simply known as the TIE Interceptor or T/I, was a TIE Series starfighter used by the Galactic Empire. The TIE Interceptor was identifiable by its arrow-shaped solar collection panels, a distinct difference from the hexagonal solar arrays of its predecessor, the TIE Fighter. The Interceptor was one of the fastest starfighters in the galaxy at its prime, nearly rivaling the Alliance's RZ-1 A-wing interceptor.
Due to their speed, distinct shape, and narrow profile in comparison to the TIE/ln starfighter (which was nicknamed "eyeball"), TIE Interceptors came to be referred to occasionally as "squints" by enemy pilots.
Like most TIE models, the TIE Interceptor shared nearly identical cockpits, drive pods, and wing brace designs with the TIE Fighter. The solar collector panels were lengthened and angled, and the forward center section was removed. This new solar array design gave the Interceptor its unmistakable dagger-like appearance and shrinking its profile to make targeting more frustrating for enemy gunners. This wing design gave the craft a more menacing visage, continuing the Empire's reputation of ruling through fear.
The original production model came equipped with four L-s9.3 laser cannons, one installed on each wingtip. New targeting software was installed in the TIE Interceptor, and the SFS T-s9a targeting computer offered greater accuracy during complex flight maneuvers. Twin laser cannon hardpoints still remained on the "chin" portion of the cockpit module. Provided that technicians could find room for additional power generators, these cannons could also be utilized. Further upgrades, including hyperdrives and advanced shielding made them equal to the Rebellion's X-wing starfighters. Their weapons were equipped with safeties.
Later TIE Interceptor models were modified to carry four blaster cannons, replacing the original wingtip laser cannons. The twin chin-mounted laser cannons remained. The new model also came equipped with multi-purpose warhead launchers. These upgrades made the new model more of a multi-purpose fighter rather than an Interceptor, though it still retained its original name. However, despite the adoption of a new model, the older model remained a common sight in Imperial fleets for years to come.
The TIE Interceptor fielded P-s5.6 twin ion engines. The new engines included an advanced ion-stream projector, thus allowing pilots access to more sophisticated combat maneuvers. Twin-port deflectors supported this feat by allowing the pilot individual manipulation of the deflectors, thus providing finer flight control. These advancements in engine technology made the TIE Interceptor a superior platform in space combat, achieving speeds beyond all other Alliance starfighters short of the RZ-1 A-wing interceptor. Interceptors assigned to Colonel Kell Bircher's elite squadron were also equipped with afterburners.
The TIE Interceptor's primary role was as its title suggested. Like its predecessors, the Interceptor lacked heavier armor, deflector shields, a hyperdrive, and life support systems (though shields and a small hyperdrive could be fitted as an upgrade, these were uncommon). Interceptor pilots were forced to rely on speed, maneuverability, superior numbers, and advanced weapon systems to prevail in its primary role of space superiority. The craft's drawbacks meant that any pilot who survived more than a few missions was considered to be a "top gun" in the Imperial fleet.
With no hyperdrive, the TIE Interceptor was reliant on a capital ship for an operations base. Star Destroyers and prominent shipyards such as Kuat and Fondor were common staging areas for Interceptor squadrons; however, smaller vessels and more remote locations had to rely on aging TIE/ln fighters.
There was also a special variant, painted completely red with significant upgrades, that was available for use by the Emperor's Royal Guards. Aside from its paint job and upgrades, this model also featured two small wings protruding from each solar panel.
TIE Interceptors had powerful solar ionization reactors, the same model used in the TIE Avenger. These could handle the special equipment built into the Interceptor, including deflector shields, beam weapons such as special beam jammers, decoy beams, hyperdrives and extra missile racks for increased warhead payload. It was common for Alpha Squadron, Avenger Squadron, Delta Squadron, Gamma Squadron, Sunspot Squadron, and others to carry one or most of these pieces of special equipment at a time.
After the Empire's disastrous loss of 286 TIE/LN starfighters to the Lightspeed Panthers during the Fei Hu campaign in 1 BBY, the Empire realized the superiority of the Incom T-65 X-wing starfighters, and decided to create an interceptor model of the TIE series as a means to counter the X-wing, with development succeeding that same year. In large part because of the success, they were later utilized in campaigns such as Operation Strike Fear and Operation Skyhook. Interceptors however were also used in early Imperial conflicts, such as putting down Gizor Dellso's droid rebellion.
Another factor in its development was to have the power of the TIE/Advanced starfighter but be more cost-effective, as the TIE/Advanced was too expensive to mass-produce.
After the destruction of the first Death Star during the Battle of Yavin, the Empire, realizing quickly the growing threat of the Rebel Alliance, increased mass production of the TIE Interceptors, thus resulting in the TIE Interceptors becoming the new fighter force of the Empire after the battle.
Emperor Palpatine, aware of the superior abilities of the TIE Interceptor, as well as its relatively low cost, had planned to replace all standard TIE Fighters with Interceptors. By the Battle of Endor, TIE Interceptors filled twenty percent of the total Imperial starfighter complement, and overwhelmed many Rebel fighters.
Two months following the defeat at Yavin, a squadron of Interceptors with concussion warhead mounts ambushed Rebel scouts. Upgraded versions with shields and hyperdrives under the command of Colonel Bircher ambushed three members of Gray Flight—Leia Organa, Wedge Antilles, and Tess Alder. Eleven of the Empire's starfighters were destroyed when the Gray Flight launched proton torpedoes at them. A member of Bircher's flight called for retreat, but the Colonel refused and gave the order for evasion pattern Delta Delta Victor. The Interceptors then broke off pursuit as their Star Destroyer prepared to fire.
The Rebels escaped and the Imperials tracked them to their next rendezvous. Bircher once again led them into combat. More of his interceptors were destroyed by a Rebel trap, forcing Bircher to activate his craft's hyperdrive and go to rendezvous coordinates Beta One.
Soon after, Bircher led the Devastator to the Rebel fleet. He ordered all of his fighters to launch and destroy the fleet, and two interceptors were commandeered by the Rebel agents Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, who had infiltrated the ship. The pair activated their afterburners and crash-landed aboard the flagship Home One. Later, as the Rebels fought his fighters, he slaved external control to the cruiser and landed in Hangar Five.
TIE interceptors dueled with the Rebel's premier T-65B X-wing starfighter squadron, the Rogues, in numerous battles around six months after the destruction of the Imperial Death Star. A TIE Interceptor captured at the Liberation of Gerrard V was stored in the Rogue's hangar.
The TIE Interceptor was considered one of the best, if not the best starfighters for dogfighting. It was often used by elite Imperial TIE squadrons like the 181st, the 128th, Alpha Squadron, and Avenger Squadron. The Interceptor was also used by squadron leaders in TIE/LN starfighter squadrons, as well as being used by Imperial personnel not in the Imperial TIE Fighter Corps, or the Imperial Navy.
Officers of the Imperial Navy were sometimes known to adopt TIE Interceptors as their personal craft, installing shield projectors and hyperdrives so the Interceptors could be utilized as escape vehicles. Apwar Trigit was one such officer.
Modified TIE Interceptors were used by Warlord Zsinj in an attempt to bait and kill Wedge Antilles. Finding that Wraith Squadron and Rogue Squadron, under Antilles' leadership, were significant impediments to his plans, the Warlord modified twelve Interceptors with droid brains and high-explosives. These ships would fly under the coordination of a central computer and be paired with a piloted craft. They were intended to close with enemy craft and detonate their explosive payloads. The two squadrons thus formed pretended to be the Imperial 181st Fighter Squadron under the command of Baron Soontir Fel.
The Warlord knew that Antilles and Fel had a personal relationship, though he was unaware of its true nature. Using actors such as Tetran Cowall and computer voice modification, he was successful in his efforts to deceive Antilles. However, Voort saBinring deduced that the ships must be automated and jammed their signal, making them easy prey for the Wraiths and Rogues combined. Finally, Wedge splashed Fel's ship, only to discover Tetran Cowall instead of the Baron.
Due to limited pilots and fighters, Grand Admiral Thrawn had many TIE Interceptors fitted with shields to minimize casualties during the reign of his Empire. This practice was continued after his death as the Empire could no longer afford to field profuse fleets of TIE Fighters.
Behind the scenes
Several sources state that the TIE/IN was the main reason behind the development of the RZ-1 A-wing interceptor by the Rebel Alliance (as a countermeasure) and that the Interceptor was deployed after Yavin.
However, the existence of the TIE Interceptor around the Battle of Yavin was well established in the timeline. Interceptors made appearances in Star Wars: X-Wing, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith video game, LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (though the Lego Star Wars games are non-canon), and Star Wars: Lethal Alliance, all of which take place before, during, or shortly after the Battle of Yavin. West End Games The Star Wars Sourcebook stated that at the time of Yavin, standard Imperial Star Destroyers carried one squadron of Interceptors (12 craft), one Bomber squadron, and four TIE/LN starfighter squadrons. By the time of the Battle of Endor, an additional Interceptor squadron has replaced that of the TIE/ln.
Numerous sources depict the TIE Interceptor as having only four wingtip cannons, but their very first appearance, in Return of the Jedi, shows them firing their chin-mounted fifth and sixth cannons, in addition to their wingtip cannons throughout the Battle of Endor. It has since been established that each TIE Interceptor comes equipped with cannon mountings on the chin, like the preceding TIE Fighter, allowing for the addition of two more cannons.
The post-production speed/maneuverability chart for Return of the Jedi lists the TIE Interceptor as being able to go up to 125 MGLTs and having a maneuverability rating of High.
Many of the models of the TIE Interceptor used in Return of the Jedi have four laser cannons on their wingtips; however, the main model used in the "Return of the Jedi collection" section of the Blu-ray special edition only has two laser cannons total, on the top two wingtips. That may be due to the fragility of the model kit parts used to create the cannons, as publicity photos taken around the time of Return of the Jedi show the miniatures with four wingtip cannons.
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- The New Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- The Stele Chronicles
- X-Wing: Wraith Squadron
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars Battlefront II: Prima Official Game Guide
- X-Wing: Solo Command
- Star Wars: TIE Fighter
- "Alliance Intelligence Report: TIE Fighters" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 10
- The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Imperial Sourcebook
- Star Wars (2013) 4
- Star Wars (2013) 11
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide
- Star Wars Galaxies
- TIE Fighter: The Official Strategy Guide
- Balance of Power in the Airam Sector
- Star Wars: X-Wing
- Star Wars (2013) 1
- Star Wars (2013) 5
- Star Wars (2013) 6
- Star Wars (2013) 10
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
- Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron: In the Empire's Service
- "Collapsing New Empires" — Star Wars Tales 19
- Star Wars: Legacy 0
- Return of the Jedi Sketchbook, page 95