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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[12]

The TIE/d "Defender" Multi-Role Starfighter, also called the TIE/D Defender or simply the TIE Defender, was an advanced experimental TIE fighter series starfighter manufactured by Sienar Fleet Systems for the Imperial Navy of the Galactic Empire. The starfighter was referred to as the TIE Defender project or the TIE Defender program while under development. 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 designed by Morgan Elsbeth and introduced as a result of Grand Admiral Thrawn 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. It was developed from a prototype called the TIE Advanced x7. As the project was to be less expensive than Project Stardust, and due to the constant delays of Director Orson Callan Krennic, many in the Empire 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. Additionally, the funding for the fighter line was ultimately reassigned for Project Stardust. 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[8]
TIED Defender Schematics-SW Rebels-An Inside Man

TIE/D Defender schematics

Like the rest of the TIE fighter series starfighters,[18] 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.[4] It also included deflector shields and a hyperdrive, new features for TIE fighters.[8] The fighters P-sz9.7 twin ion engines[2] were too fast for Y-wing starfighters and armed with six L-s9.3 laser cannons,[8] CLL-3 Ion Torpedoes,[11] and concussion missiles[5]—causing high damage over a moderate area.[4] Some TIE/Ds featured six additional missiles and red markings on their wings,[16] similar to some elite TIE interceptors.[19]

As development of the TIE Defender progressed, a new variant was produced, which was classified as the TIE Defender Elite, with the faster and stronger 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.[16]


Thrawn's new initiative[]

"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[12]
Spectres discover TIE Defender

The rebels examine the stolen TIE/D Defender schematics.

The designs of the TIE Defender were first drafted by Morgan Elsbeth, who attempted to convince various Imperial officers during a presentation on Coruscant of its benefits. However, Moff Isdain bluntly rejected the offer due to its great costs.[1]

In the year 2 BBY,[14] 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 group, 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.[12]

According to some accounts from the Sienar Advanced Projects Laboratory, Thrawn showed the designers a rare Kamino saberdart to convey several of his proposals for aspects of the Defender. The saberdart showcased the proposed shape and positions of the Defender's wings, as well as the "unparalleled" visibility and heightened maneuverability the design would grant its pilots.[2]

Thrawn's project was supported by high-ranking Imperial officials, such as Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and Grand Admiral Balanhai Savit as well as Emperor Palpatine himself.[20] 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 without yielding any results. This allowed Thrawn, backed by the disgruntled Tarkin, who was a rival to Krennic, to acquire the funding necessary to begin production of the TIE Defender on Lothal.[21][22]

Chasing Mon Mothma[]

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[8]
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 Lieutenant Commander Ezra Bridger and Captain Jon "Dutch" Vander managed to disable the prototype by hitting the ship with an ion cannon before making their escape. Despite the failed mission, the mission was seen as a relatively successful test of the new ship.[8]

Vader's support[]

"The Defender is an excellent ship. I will speak to the Emperor on behalf of the project. But it needs to be faster, and more heavily armed. The controls, too, should also be made simpler."
―Darth Vader[23]

Darth Vader piloting a TIE Defender

Defenders were used by the Seventh Fleet and eventually Darth Vader himself after he, Thrawn, and the fleet engaged in a conflict against the Grysk Hegemony. After completing their mission, 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 than it currently was. The ship's controls also needed to be simpler to handle. Thrawn thanked Vader 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.[23]

A new prototype[]

"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[16]

Vult Skerris's TIE Defender Elite

Later, a new prototype, the TIE/D Defender Elite, was produced on Lothal,[24] adding Vader's recommendations.[23] 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.[16] Eventually, the flight data recorder made its way to the Rebel Alliance and they decided to launch an attack on Lothal.[25] 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 an Imperial I-class Star Destroyer.[26]

Project in peril[]

"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[21]
Vessery Defender-XWMG

A TIE Defender flying close to the surface of a star.

With Skerris's death, Benj Dobbs was promoted to serve as commander of Thrawn's Defender squadron.[20] 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 Lothal for Coruscant.[21]

Soon after his departure, 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. Thrawn was notably displeased with Pryce's actions, telling her that he will deal with her upon his return to Lothal.[21][27]

It was decreed that funding for the TIE Defender project would be shifted to the Death Star instead. Nevertheless, Tarkin promised that, after the completion of the superweapon, the Empire could restore funding to the Defender.[20] However, shortly later during the Liberation of Lothal, Thrawn was taken out of galactic affairs by Bridger, who summoned a pod of Purrgil to take the Chimaera[28] away to deep space. Additionally, the Death Star would be destroyed in the Battle of Yavin, necessitating the construction of a second battle station.[29] All the while, the TIE Defender program came to its end. Albeit with some apparent exceptions, remaining Defenders were decommissioned.[30]

Galactic Civil War[]

Starship Graveyard Jakku SWDA

The wreck of a TIE Defender

Despite the end of the program, the TIE Defender would still see some use throughout the further Galactic Civil War.[30] The fighters were available to Captain Kosh of the 68th Legion.[4] Following the battle at Jekara,[31] several TIE Defenders were used by Dark Squadron under bounty hunter Beilert Valance. On the order of Vader, the squadron used their defenders to take out Admiral Tarl Sokoli aboard the Forerunner II. The appearance of Defenders came as a surprise to Sokoli, who knew their program had been decommissioned years prior.[30] At least one Defender flew during the Battle of Jakku and was destroyed, crashing into the Graveyard of Giants.[17]


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.[13] In addition to using the Defenders' features in the TIE/sf and TIE/vn models, First Order officials revived the Imperial TIE Defender program and regarded the TIE/D as a versatile attack craft. Further more, the TIE Defender's hybrid nature as a fighter-bomber influenced the design of Kylo Ren's TIE silencer.[2]

A customised TIE/D was used by Kiza, a former member of the Acolytes of the Beyond,[32] in 21 ABY[33] during her hunt to find Exegol.[32]

Behind the scenes[]

"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[34]
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,[35] released in July 1994.[36] The fighter was incorporated into canon upon its inclusion in the mobile strategy game Star Wars: Commander[4] in late November 2014.[37] 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.[38] 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"[12] (the tenth episode),[39] and the fighter itself later appeared in "Secret Cargo"[8] (the eighteenth episode).[40] 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.[34][41]


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. The book also incorrectly says the Defender was only ever used against Syndulla's "small rebel cell."[5] TIE Fighter Owners' Workshop Manual calls the cockpit guns laser cannons, while these are the warhead launchers as proved by the Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles and the Manual's texts themselves. Starships and Speeders incorrectly identifies the cost of the vessel as 75,000 credits.[9] The forty-eight issue of De Agostini's Star Wars: Build the Millennium Falcon incorrectly states that the vessel was developed as a response to the rebel victory at the Battle of Yavin, was the first TIE series vessel to have shielding and a hyperdrive, and had it had a speed value of 144 MGLT.[6]



Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 TalesoftheEmpire-logo Star Wars: Tales of the Empire — "The Path of Anger"
  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 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 TIE Fighter Owners' Workshop Manual
  3. StarWars-DatabankII TIE defender in the Databank (backup link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Star Wars: Commander
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Build the Millennium Falcon Star Wars: Build the Millennium Falcon 48 (Starship Fact File: TIE/D Defender)
  7. FantasyFlightGamesLogo Reinforcements of Renown on Fantasy Flight Games' official website (backup link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Secret Cargo"
  9. 9.0 9.1 Starships and Speeders
  10. Star Wars: The Rebel Files
  11. 11.0 11.1 EAFavicon-Logo Kit Reveal: TIE Defender + QA Form on Electronic Arts' official website (backup link)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "An Inside Man"
  13. 13.0 13.1 Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Incredible Cross-Sections
  14. 14.0 14.1 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.
  15. The events of Bounty Hunters 19 take place after the Escape from Cloud City and before the Rescue of Han Solo, which are dated to 3 ABY and 4 ABY, respectively, by Star Wars: Galactic Atlas. As Bounty Hunters 19 establishes that TIE/d "Defender" Multi-Role Starfighters were decommissioned years before its events, they must have been decommissioned years before the time between 3 ABY and 4 ABY.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Flight of the Defender"
  17. 17.0 17.1 SW Destiny Template Star Wars: DestinyAwakenings (Card: Starship Graveyard—Jakku) (backup link)
  18. Ultimate Star Wars
  19. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "The Antilles Extraction"
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Thrawn: Treason
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Jedi Night"
  22. Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Thrawn: Alliances
  24. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "The Occupation"
  25. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Crawler Commandeers"
  26. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Rebel Assault"
  27. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "DUME"
  28. Rebels-mini-logo Star Wars Rebels — "Family Reunion – and Farewell"
  29. Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Bounty Hunters 19
  31. Bounty Hunters 18
  32. 32.0 32.1 Shadow of the Sith
  33. Star Wars: Timelines dates the events of Shadow of the Sith to 21 ABY.
  34. 34.0 34.1 SWYTlogo Rebels Recon #3.09: Inside "An Inside Man" | Star Wars Rebels on the official Star Wars YouTube channel (backup link)  (Posted on StarWars.com)
  35. Star Wars: TIE Fighter
  36. LucasArtsIcon 20th Anniversary History, Part Two: The Classics, 1990 - 1994 on LucasArts.com (content now obsolete; backup link)
  37. Star Wars: Commander Wiki Guide on IGN (archived from the original on August 23, 2016)
  38. EAFavicon-Logo Welcome to the Death Star on Electronic Arts' official website (September 19, 2016) (backup link)
  39. StarWars "An Inside Man" Episode Guide | Star Wars Rebels on StarWars.com (backup link)
  40. StarWars "Secret Cargo" Episode Guide | Star Wars Rebels on StarWars.com (backup link)
  41. StarWars "An Inside Man" Trivia Gallery on StarWars.com (backup link) (image 4 of 4)

External links[]