The Trade Federation was a shipping conglomerate established in 350 BBY to mediate disputes between shipping firms. By the 100s BBY, it had evolved into a powerful commerce guild, trade cartel, megacorporation, and lobbying group in its own right as an association of business and trade groups, with its own large commercial trade fleet.
The Federation grew to dominate entire star systems and all major trade routes, and possessed a formidable private military and droid army. Towards the end of the Republic, it would become increasingly dominated by the commerce-savvy Neimoidians. Its immense influence made it the favored pawn of the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious, who manipulated Viceroy Nute Gunray to stoke dissatisfaction in the systems controlled by the Federation, sowing the seeds for a war that would destroy the Galactic Republic. Under Gunray's leadership, the Trade Federation was responsible for the blockade of Naboo in 32 BBY in protest against increased taxation. After its defeat at Naboo, the Trade Federation and numerous other megacorporations sided with Count Dooku's Separatist movement out of fear of nationalization by the Republic.
Again under Sidious' influence, the Federation played a major role in the Clone Wars, and its large droid army and fleet formed the core of the CIS military. In 19 BBY, Sidious betrayed Gunray and orchestrated the CIS' defeat. Under the brief leadership of its final Viceroy, Sentepeth Findos, the Trade Federation was dissolved and imperialized by Sidious' new Galactic Empire. A small remnant led by Marath Vooro continued resistance for several months until its defeat in the Five Veils Campaign. The Trade Federation itself was not officially disbanded until the Imperial Senate was dissolved in 0 BBY.
The Trade Federation was founded in the Colonies in 350 BBY as a Republic-charted organization tasked with mediating disputes between the galaxy's merchants and shipping firms. At the time, transportation megacorporations such as Pulsar Supertanker, Quasar Cargo, Red Star Shipping Lines, and Ororo Transportation were stifling commerce by shutting out competitors from Rim spaceports and refusing to share navigational data. The Federation, initially composed of many species, including the Neimoidians, helped curb such abuses, and within a hundred years had become a powerful shipping cartel in its own right. The Federation was originally controlled by a directorate, which was led by a commanding Viceroy.
The Trade Federation's members increasingly worked together to negotiate more favorable rates and policies, and also contracted with Hoersch-Kessel Drive, Inc. to build a new fleet of LH-3210 cargo freighters. By 250 BBY, the Trade Federation had advanced beyond its original mission and had become a powerful association lobbying to advance trade interests in the Galactic Senate. It also worked to open up new regions of the galaxy to trade and commerce, with the Trade Explorer Corps blazing numerous new routes into the Outer Rim and establishing networks of retail outlets, depots, waystations and landing fields in thousands of isolated systems.
As its power grew, the Trade Federation found itself having to defend its transports from piracy. Rather than rely on corrupt or ineffectual Planetary Security Forces, the Federation established its own Trade Defense Force, which became a capable and well-regarded paramilitary that earned the respect and admiration of the Republic's Judicial Forces.
The Trade Federation of the late 200s BBY was seen by many as the ideal Republic institution: run by a diverse group of species and interests, it represented its members capably and fairly on Coruscant, made investments that advanced commerce across the galaxy, and augmented the power of the Judicials and Planetary Security Forces with the Trade Defense Force. And illustrative example can be seen in the Rseik sector in 214 BBY: the sector had an endemic problem with piracy, and in the aftermath of the Bordal Contagion, the firms Kett Shipping, Rseikharhl Hullspace, Cotellieri Transports Limited, and the Ma'ar Shaddam Weaponsmiths Guild decided to approach the Trade Federation for aid. Following a secret meeting with a Balmorran Federation agent on the planet Syned, all parties agreed to become Federation subsidiaries. The Federation moved in a flotilla of gunboats and system patrol craft via Svivren, along with with a pair of Munifex-class light cruisers and a Captor-class heavy munitions cruiser. On their first convoy escort to Kabal, they were ambushed by the Fujari pirates at Tertiary Fujar. In the course of an hour, the Fujari pirates and their asteroid base were completely destroyed by the Trade Defense Force. A week later the TDF destroyed the Hajara pirate gang. Within a decade the Trade Federation had upgraded spaceport facilities at Kirdo III and Laria, established a depot for goods at Tyne Albamon, blazed a faster route to Svivren, and installed a TDF marine post at the Dravian Starport. By that time, Kett Shipping was running more than twenty convoys a year without a single loss.
As its power grew, the Trade Federation became a cartel in its own right, dominating galactic trade and ruthlessly suppressing opposition. By 150 BBY, trade between the Core and the Rim was once again drying up. In an effort to jump-start commerce, the Galactic Senate declared the entire Outer Rim a Free Trade Zone in 124 BBY, but this merely exempted the Trade Federation from local taxation. It moved aggressively into the new Free Trade Zone, crafting arrangements with impoverished sectors that effectively handed over their Senate votes. Other sectors were forced to give up their economic self-determination, becoming perpetual customers for the Trade Federation. The Trade Federation held maps of hyperspace routes closely rather than sharing them, enabling them to cement their hold over trade routes. Only the Jedi and the Office of the Supreme Chancellor were able to maintain maps of similar quality. The Federation had many planetary protectorates throughout the galaxy, often using the ceremonial halls inside their core ships to sign protectorship agreements.
Within two generations, the Trade Federation controlled enough Senate votes to hamper competitors, influence the courts, and stall legislation. In 67 BBY it even gained a seat in the Senate on the same level as a member world as a functional constituency, represented by Lott Dod. The Trade Federation gained full voting privileges as part of a deal secretly negotiated by Hego Damask II of Damask Holdings, the alter ego of the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Plagueis, in which they accepted the reform of the Free Trade Zones in the Outer Rim Territories, even though this would cost some of their shipping monopoly and expose them to competition from start-up companies. Though the Trade Federation gained representation in the Galactic Senate in exchange, the leadership remained disgruntled at the loss of some of its monopoly.
In 65 BBY, the Trade Federation gained full rights to construct a new spaceport for Theed on the planet Naboo, and to export the planet's newly-discovered plasma resources: as Hego Damask, Darth Plagueis explicitly involved the Trade Federation to reconcile them to the earlier Free Trade Zone Deal. Many on Naboo, however, especially isolationists like Senator Vidar Kim, pointed out that the Trade Federation would sell Naboo's plasma on for ten or even twenty times what it paid for it, and saw the deal as unjust and exploitative.
Many on Coruscant bemoaned the Trade Federation's corruption, predatory business practices, and the extinction of representation for the systems it controlled. When Senator Vidar Kim was assassinated by a never-identified Maladian gunman at the behest of Darth Plagueis, many were prepared to suggest that the Trade Federation had in fact been responsible. However, others admired it for the TDF's rapid extinction of piracy on the major hyperlanes. A terrorist group known as the Nebula Front declared its intention to fight the Trade Federation by any means necessary, while the Stark Commercial Combine led by Iaco Stark began raiding Trade Federation convoys and selling pirated goods for a huge markup. In this period, the Neimoidian faction became increasingly influential in the Trade Federation. The Neimoidians who ran the Trade Federation received their organizational skills from running mass hives and fungus farms on their homeworld of Neimoidia and the Neimoidian purse worlds like Cato Neimoidia, Deko Neimoidia, and Koru Neimoidia.
The Stark Hyperspace War
The Stark Hyperspace War of 44 BBY was a turning point for both the Trade Federation and its opponents in the Senate: amid a bacta shortage, Iaco Stark began raiding Trade Federation bacta shipments and selling them on for reduced prices, becoming a hero to many in the Outer Rim. In response, the Trade Federation demanded the right to greater armaments on its merchant ships. However, what appeared to be a simple smuggler conflict was in fact a ruse cooked up between Stark, the Xucphra bacta corporation, and Viceroy Hask, who saw it as an opportunity to cripple the Republic's military forces with Stark's navcomputer virus and so between them achieve economic domination over the galaxy.
Senator Finis Valorum called for a peace conference to address the underlying causes of the war. However, aware that the Trade Federation had conspired with Xucphra to manufacture the bacta shortage, and believing that only force would resolve the conflict, Senator Ranulph Tarkin blackmailed Trade Federation Minister Nute Gunray into revealing the conference's location on Troiken. Assembling a fleet, Tarkin raced to Troiken to ambush Stark's forces, but his fleet was decimated by Stark's navcomputer virus and he was forced to go to ground on the planet. As bitter attritional fighting developed on Troiken, a Jedi task force discovered Xucphra and the Trade Federation's conspiracy. On Coruscant, Jedi Master Mace Windu used the information to intimidate Viceroy Hask and Nute Gunray into releasing TDF assets for a counterattack. Stark defected to the Republic and helped end the crisis in exchange for amnesty, but both the Trade Federation and its opponents in the Senate had been radicalized. Hask resigned over the conspiracy and was replaced as Viceroy by Nute Gunray, and the Trade Federation intensified its demands for greater protection on its merchant ships.
The entire crisis had in fact been orchestrated by Darth Sidious, apprentice to Darth Plagueis and publicly Senator Palpatine of Naboo. Sidious used the crisis to intensify tensions between the Core Worlds and the Outer Rim systems dominated by the Trade Federation. He would continue manipulating the Trade Federation and its enemies until the galaxy stood on the brink of a war that would destroy the Republic.
Under the Neimoidians
- "I realize that your voracious desires stem from the cruel conditions of your upbringing—you and your fellow grubs in ruthless competition for limited supplies of fungus. But I understand. We are all shaped by our infantile desires, our longing for affection and attention, our fears of death. And judging by how far you have come, it's clear that you were unrivaled and continue to be."
- ―Darth Sidious declares himself to Viceroy Nute Gunray.
Over the next decade, the Neimoidian Inner Circle became increasingly influential in the seven-member Trade Federation Directorate, though the Federation only became a Neimoidian monopoly in 33 BBY, when six other members of the Trade Federation Directorate were murdered, leaving only Viceroy Nute Gunray. During this time, the Trade Federation also started building up a droid invasion army in secret. In order to ensure the creation and mobilization of the army was kept secret from the authorities at the Galactic Republic, they referred to the suspicious pieces of equipment as being shipments of the most expensive and latest rendition of binary loadlifters when undergoing checks by the Republic Customs Office. The Federation's growing power and influence led many in the Senate to consider re-imposing taxation on the Outer Rim, effectively abolishing the Free Trade Zones. The Trade Federation was invariably opposed to renewed taxation, and through its senator, Lott Dod, endlessly filibustered Senate debates on the issue.
When Alaris Prime was discovered, a droid army under the leadership of Nute Gunray settled on the forest moon to begin stripping its resources and establish a base in the strategically located system, struggling against the moon's native Gundarks. Unaware of the Trade Federation's presence, the Wookiees legally brought colonists to Alaris Prime under the leadership of Attichitcuk, his son Chewbacca, and their friend Shoran. With the help of a Jedi force, the Federation left the moon.
In 33 BBY, Darth Sidious was ready to launch his master plan and declared himself to the Neimoidian faction of the Directorate. Sidious both blackmailed and flattered Gunray into accepting a "partnership", relying on his dissatisfaction with the current Directorate, which he felt did not recognise his talents and stymied his plans. Promising Gunray a "surprise promotion", Sidious dispatched his apprentice Darth Maul to the mining world of Dorvalla, where Maul pit the rival companies Lommite Limited and InterGalactic Ore against one another. The Trade Federation had long sought to control the planet's lommite trade, and owing to Maul's actions the two companies merged to form Dorvalla Mining, which soon agreed to allow the Trade Federation to export lommite ore, and to accept Trade Federation representation in the Senate. As a result, Gunray's power was solidified, and so was the hold Sidious had over the Viceroy.
Meanwhile, violence between the Nebula Front and the Trade Federation was intensifying. In further conversations with the Viceroy, Darth Sidious demanded that the Neimoidians willingly sacrifice one of their Lucrehulk-class freighters, the Revenue, and its cargo of aurodium ingots worth two billion credits. In a second incident at Dorvalla, a Nebula Front group led by Arwen Cohl raided the Revenue and made off with the cargo, which prompted Nute Gunray to again demand the right to increased protection on the Trade Federation's ships.
As Senator Palpatine, Sidious convinced Supreme Chancellor Valorum that renewed taxation was the only way to check the abuses that produced the dissatisfaction that led to the violence of the Nebula Front. As this would effectively abolish the Free Trade Zones that had made the Trade Federation so wealthy, Senator Lott Dod again raised objections and repeated the demand that the Federation be allowed to expand its droid army to defend against the Nebula Front. Palpatine proposed that a summit be held on Eriadu to allow all sides to come to an agreement. Owing to Sidious' manipulations, the summit was an utter disaster: the Trade Federation Directorate's security droids turned their weapons on their charges, killing the entire Directorate but for Gunray and Dod.
In the aftermath of the disastrous Eriadu Trade Summit, Gunray proceeded to fill up the vacancies on the Directorate with his Neimoidian puppets, some of whom later comprised the Occupation Council that took control of Theed after the Naboo invasion.
Showing little sympathy for the Trade Federation after Eriadu, the Galactic Senate became determined to impose taxation, drafting Senate Resolution BR-0371. The new Queen of Naboo, Padmé Amidala, led the call for new taxation, and Senator Palpatine, knowing it would antagonise the Trade Federation, agreed with his monarch. As Darth Sidious, he contacted Gunray and encouraged him to begin preparations for a blockade of Naboo in protest of the resolution.
The invasion of Naboo
The Federation procured the necessary resources on a number of planets, including Alaris Prime, Esseles, and Eos. Gunray had a brief moment of panic before launching the blockade, fearing the cost of diverting so many ships from trade, though Sidious coldly informed him that any loss of revenues would inevitably be balanced out through the Trade Federation's investors shipping of weapons. Amid the preparations, Deputy Viceroy Hath Monchar attempted to reveal the plot to the Jedi Order, though he was killed by Darth Maul before he could succeed.Two of the Trade Federations member species—the Caarites and the Filordi—felt this blockade would destroy the Federation, so they split off to form the Metatheran Cartel and forced the Federation out of the Cularin system.
The Trade Federation's fleet was largely made up of converted Lucrehulk-class freighters, which included 50 conference rooms on the ships' centersphere for trade negotiations. In large part because of this, the Trade Federation when designing the rooms deliberately gave special adaptations to them to specifically place clients at a disadvantage, including the installation of variable gas emitters as well as remote-operated "concentration deficit" chairs to make it difficult for their clients to think clearly. The Executive Board was unwilling to spend more credits (being the thrifty businessmen they were), and chose to convert their enormous commercial freight carriers into formidable, three-kilometer long warships, complete with shields, turbolasers, and military grade communications arrays. Also, the Trade Federation struck deals with numerous species, like the Colicoids and the Xi Char, to construct massive armies for the Federation. Also because of their thriftiness, as well as the development of their droid army around the same time, they also had the air-traffic control rooms for the various ships replace both paid employees and expensive protocol droids with low-maintenance OOM pilot droids to offset the costs.
In addition, even in the long awaited and profitable enterprise of battle, the Trade Federation warcraft were still manufactured inexpensively. Unwilling to spend more money on droid brains, the Trade Federation Executive Board controlled their massive armies from a single central control computer aboard a Lucrehulk-class Droid Control Ship.
With Naboo blockaded and beginning to starve, Nute Gunray felt that the Senate would be forced to concede on the issue of taxation. However, while the Senate debated endlessly on the blockade, Supreme Chancellor Valorum secretly requested that two Jedi Knights be dispatched to force a settlement. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi arrived on the flagship Saak'ak and were immediately set upon by poison gas and battle droids. On the orders of Darth Sidious, Gunray began a general invasion of Naboo in an effort to force the Senate to come to terms, expecting that Queen Amidala would easily be induced to sign a capitulation treaty to legitimise the invasion.
The Trade Federation Droid Army swiftly secured the major cities and Nute Gunray installed himself as leader of an occupation government in the capital of Theed. The civilian population was largely interned in makeshift prison camps, and with battle droids having little idea of how to care for human beings, sickness and starvation soon set in. With the aid of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, Queen Amidala escaped to Coruscant with a small entourage. While she failed to rally the Senate against the Federation, she orchestrated a vote of no confidence against the now largely-powerless Valorum, allowing Naboo's Senator Palpatine to be elected as his successor.
Returning to Naboo, Amidala unilaterally set aside ancestral differences with the native Gungans and formed an alliance. In the ensuing battle, the droid control ship was destroyed and the droid army disabled, while Gunray himself was forced by Amidala to sign a new treaty after trapping him in the throne room. Gunray was forced to make a humiliating return to Coruscant to face a Senate investigation, with Panaka also implying while watching him leave that the results of the Senate's investigation may potentially result in the Trade Federation's shutdown. It would not be until over a decade later that it was discovered that invasion had in fact been a massive ruse orchestrated by Darth Sidious to elevate his public persona of Palpatine to the office of Supreme Chancellor.
Despite the Naboo expecting that the Senate would revoke the Federation's trade franchise as punishment for the invasion, the Trade Federation retained much of its power. Despite four trials in the Supreme Court, Nute Gunray remained Viceroy.
Following the Invasion of Naboo, the Federation began diversifying its fleets, with new destroyers and cruisers using the modular core ships as control cores. In addition, Pammant Docks provided the Trade Federation with massive Providence-class carrier/destroyers, such as the Invisible Hand.
After the collapse of his final trial, Nute Gunray approached Count Dooku, who had recently left the Jedi Order over the death of his former apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn on Naboo, and told him what he knew of Darth Sidious. Unbeknownst to Gunray, Dooku had already turned to the dark side of the Force and sworn himself to Sidious as Darth Tyranus.
From 24 BBY, Count Dooku began rallying various systems and corporations to form the Confederacy of Independent Systems on Raxus Prime. Gunray however did not formally align the Trade Federation with the Separatists until the outbreak of war in 22 BBY. His price for the support of the Trade Federation and its droid army was the death of the now-Senator Padmé Amidala of Naboo, in revenge for his humiliation ten years earlier.
Battle of Geonosis
In 22 BBY on the eve of the Clone Wars, Nute Gunray pledged the Trade Federation's resources to said cause in exchange for the death of Padmé Amidala, as revenge for the fiasco on Naboo. Unfortunately, a botched attempt on Amidala's life by Zam Wesell resulted in Obi-Wan Kenobi tracking a bounty hunter to Geonosis, where Gunray and the other various members of the CIS had gathered. Kenobi was captured, but this merely resulted in Anakin Skywalker and Amidala setting out to rescue Kenobi.
Eventually, these events spiraled into Mace Windu leading a Jedi attack on the arena where the prisoners were about to be executed, much to Gunray's dismay. Upon Yoda's arrival with a large clone army, it descended into a full scale battle, starting off the Clone Wars between the Confederacy and the Republic. The Trade Federation was unable to break off now, and soon Federation automata formed much of the CIS army.
The course of the war
The Federation officially claimed neutral status in the Clone Wars, and indeed Lott Dod continued to represent it in the Senate. However, the Federation was clearly a major military and financial contributor to the Confederacy, with Dod taking instructions from Count Dooku. During the Battle of Ryloth, Dod deliberately attempted to stymie the Republic's diplomatic efforts towards Toydaria to deny it as a staging ground against Separatist forces attacking Ryloth. The Trade Federation was a major investor in reactivating the Geonosis droid foundries, while its blockade of Pantora, ostensibly done in the name of debt collection, was an attempt to force the moon into the CIS.
While the Trade Federation provided the vast majority of the CIS' military assets, including B1 and B2 battle droids and Droidekas, as a business it was highly reluctant to spend more credits than were absolutely necessary to upgrade the droids. Consequently, B1 battle droids were pushed into specialized roles to which they were unsuited, such as warship crewers, pilots, gunners, and emergency responders. Gunray's own dismissive attitude to droids caused him to regard the cyborg Supreme Commander of the Droid Armies, General Grievous, as little more than another worker drone. The enraged Grievous nearly killed Gunray before Dooku intervened.
The end of the conflict
- "The war is over! Lord Sidious promised us peace! We only want..."
- ―Viceroy Nute Gunray's last words before being killed by Darth Vader
Despite several successful offensives such as Operation Durge's Lance, by 20 BBY the CIS had been forced on to the defensive in the Outer Rim Sieges. Trade Federation holdings in the Core Worlds were besieged by Republic forces, including the Neimoidian purse-worlds of Cato Neimoidia, Deko Neimoidia and Koru Neimoidia. The Neimoidian homeworld itself saw significant fighting, catastrophically affecting the long-term population of the species.
Following the failure of the Separatist attack on Coruscant, Nute Gunray, Rune Haako, and the Trade Federation representatives on the Separatist Council were evacuated from Utapau to a secret facility on Mustafar. As they had worked with Sidious for well over ten years, Gunray and Haako felt that the Trade Federation had a personal arrangement with Darth Sidious and felt that he would guarantee them peace. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, however, having issued Order 66 to fulfil the Sith Order's long-held dream of destroying the Jedi Order, was on the point of proclaiming himself Emperor. As Sidious, he sent his new apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, now taking the Sith name of Darth Vader, to Mustafar to murder the entire Separatist Council and end the Clone Wars.
On Mustafar, Gunray initially welcomed Vader, who calmly sealed the room and slaughtered the entire Separatist Council, killing Gunray last. Following Gunray's death, Vader ordered the Trade Federation's droid control ships to shut down all droid units, ending the Clone Wars.
- "As the Trade Federation signs this treaty of peace with the Empire, we recognize that our constituent parts are no longer under our control. We ask only that the Emperor grant us special dispensation during the distribution of assets in light of our proven track record in business."
- ―Sentepeth Findos
With Nute Gunray's death in 19 BBY at the hands of former Jedi Anakin Skywalker, now Darth Vader, the Trade Federation fell. Acting Viceroy Sentepeth Findos who was on Cato Neimoidia resisted for a brief moment but was forced by Stormtroopers to sign a peace treaty with the Empire only a few days after the Clone Wars ended. This gave all of the Federation's resources to Palpatine's disposal to help him build the Galactic Empire. However, there was still some resistance. This had made the federation a puppet government of the Imperial Senate, which continued until they sank with the Imperial Senate in 0 BBY.
Marath Vooro's resistance
Customs Vizier Marath Vooro refused to accept peace with the Empire and managed to reactivate a number of droids and ships, establishing a short-lived resistance movement based around Enarc on the Five Veils Route. Vooro's resistance bolstered the morale of the remaining Separatists, but he had a critical lack of effective commanders. An Imperial fleet under the command of Moff Octavian Grant decisively defeated Vooro's forces at the Battle of Farstine, then pursued him down the Five Veils Route, ultimately capturing Vooro at the Hook Nebula.
Association with the Rebel Alliance
Those few Trade Federation remnants that survived until the Galactic Civil War would enter into associations with the Alliance to Restore the Republic. The Neimoidian Trade Defense Force Captain Blox Hatha was refused formal Alliance membership but became a renowned privateer bearing a Rebel letter of marque and reprisal.
Trade Federation holdouts remained after the Battle of Yavin. Fanatical loyalists, zealots, and avengers affiliated with the Trade Federation remained on the planet Naboo, where they were considered enemies of the Royal Naboo Security Forces and the Nal Raka Criminal Empire led by Borvo the Hutt. In fact, the Nal Raka Criminal Empire assumed control over the Old Trade Federation Route following the Invasion of Naboo.
- "The Trade Federation cannot function without its head. Neimoidians don't think for themselves. Without the Viceroy to command them, they will cease to be a threat."
- ―Padmé Amidala
The Trade Federation's military forces, by the time of the Naboo Invasion, were primarily composed of battle droids, largely owing to the Neimoidians' major influence in the organization. The most common mainstay of the Trade Federation's mechanized forces were the B-series battle droid, which had been modeled after decayed corpses of Neimoidians as a form of psychological terror. During the Naboo Crisis, the B-series had the B1 battle droid, with the only other variant being B1 battle droids riding Beetle droids as steeds. It won't be until the Clone Wars nearly a decade later that the B-series would include additional variations, including the sniper-wielding battle droid assassins, the Droid marines (which despite technically being B-series, had green markings akin to the OOM-series) that acted as the last line of defense against boarding, and the B2 super battle droid. The latter droid model was derived from the E4 baron droid, which had originally been designed as an assassin droid model until being repurposed for guard duty largely because of the Battle of Naboo.
The OOM-series battle droids had a similar design to the B-series battle droids, only they were more regulated to duties that rarely involved direct combat situations. There were at least three variants for them that dealt with a different function each. The OOM command battle droid, who directly led the various units within the Trade Federation's droid armies (and, later, the Confederacy of Independent Systems' droid armies), which were identified by yellow markings on the torso and the head; The OOM pilot battle droid, likewise, functioned as pilots for various war machines for the Trade Federation, from AATs to droid control ships, and had blue shoulders for its identifying characteristics; the OOM security battle droid, likewise, acted as guard units on either Trade Federation battleships or in conquered territory, and are identifiable via magenta markings on the torso.
The other most prevalent droid model within the Trade Federation were Droidekas, also known as Destroyer droids or wheel droids (the latter due to their form of rapid transportation involving turning into a wheel and speeding towards the opponent), which had been supplied to them at a special rate by the Colicoids in exchange for rare treats. The models were notorious for not only their prowess in battle, but also the fact that their shield generators were powerful enough to withstand even lightsabers, leaving even the Jedi wary of them. There were two variants of the Droideka model. The first, the P-series destroyer droid, was under the service of a Central Droid Computer. The second, the more advanced W-series droideka, operated in complete autonomy.
Other Trade Federation droid models included the Trade Federation probe (which later saw extensive use under General Grievous during the Clone Wars), and the turret droids, which included a tripod variation and a specialized variant known as the T4 turret droid.
The Trade Federation's armed forces were originally composed of organics, with the Trade Defense Force being the primary military arm. It was formed as a deterrent against pirates and other neer-do-wells. However, like its parent organization, it would grow corrupt and ruthless, exploiting sectors. They also ended up generally replaced by the mechanized forces due to growing Neimoidian influence as a result of the disastrous trade summit. The TDF's officers primarily wore black uniforms, and also commanded several of their ships. The TDF was largely disbanded after the Naboo Crisis was resolved when most of their members were arrested for their role in the invasion, and was eventually disbanded for good with the Declaration of a New Order.
During the Clone Wars, although organics fighting on the ground were rare, organic units did exist, including the Neimoidian Gunnery Battalion and the Neimoidian Home Defense Legion. The latter was formed because the Neimoidians had surprising tenacity regarding protecting their treasures.
Like with its main armed forces, the various Starfighters utilized by the Trade Federation were unmanned. Their most well known Starfighter was the Variable Geometry Self-Propelled Battle Droid, Mark I, later known as the Vulture-class Battle Droid during the Clone Wars, which had three modes: A ground mode, which allowed them to act as walkers, a flight mode, where their wings were closed, and an attack mode where their wings open to reveal cannons inside for Starfighter combat. Although originally non-sentient, by the time of the late Clone Wars, they gained enough sentience to make commands in Neimoidian before doing any maneuvers. There were two other variants used during the Battle of Naboo, the Advanced Droid Starfighter and a light version, which were composed of two wings (one at the bottom) and an airspeeder-like design, respectively. The Trade Federation droid bomber had a similar design to the Vulture-class, particularly in the "cockpit" (composed of two slit-like "eye" sensors), although it could not transform and was slow and little maneuverability.
Besides the Vulture-class, other Starfighters included the Scarab-class droid starfighters and the E-STAP Starbomber series. The E-STAP series, as indicated by the name, acted as bombers, which had at least three models. A standard model, a more heavily armored version, and a shielded version.
The artillery for the Trade Federation included the AML (an anti-air vehicle), the HAML (an improved version of the AML), the Bio cannon (a Droideka-like droid functionally similar to the SPHA-T), and the Heavy Artillery Gun, alongside its cousins the HAG\-M and the HHAG\-M (an improved version of the former).
In addition, the main battle tanks for the Trade Federation were the Armored Assault Tank, as well as its more heavily armored cousin, the Heavy Armored Assault Tank. A smaller version used primarily for hit and run tactics was known as the Armored Scout Tank.
One-droid repulsorlifts known as Single Trooper Aerial Platforms were used to scout the area as well as if needs be take out stragglers. A more heavily armed version existed known as the Heavy Single Trooper Aerial Platform. The MVR-3 speeder bike served a similar purpose to the STAPs alongside the Speeder platforms.
The Trade Federation also had access to Energy Pummels, siege engines that allowed for breaching into bases. They came in two variants, one having one pummel, and another having two. Due to their being very slow and vulnerable despite being heavily armored, they were often supplied heavy escorts during the time of the Battle of Naboo to compensate.
Aside from the more direct offensive measures, the ground forces also had transport vehicles for delivering their troops. The Multi-Troop Transport carried as many as 122 B-series battle droids and/or 20 droidekas. By the time they were refitted during the Clone Wars, they could also carry 12 B2 Battle Droids. A multi-purpose version known as the Multi-Utility Transport was also used during the Clone Wars, which was capable of carrying large amounts of cargo, although at the cost of its speed, and was an offshoot of the Trade Federation Troop Transport. The Platoon Attack Craft was a smaller scale version of the MTT, with the main difference being that it lacked armaments, being purely a troop carrier.
Although technically spacecraft, the Neimoidian trader was used to deliver Nova Crystals between Trade Federation bases in occupied territory.
Although rarely used during the Invasion of Naboo, Aquatic units existed during the time of the Naboo Crisis. The Ocean Troop Transports were used to deliver troops to underwater combat zones (although, ironically, the OTTs themselves functioned poorly in such environments due to tending to sink) and had an armed version described as battleships, while the Trade Federation Patrol Boats were used to guard various prison camps. In addition, their maritime fleets also were composed of various frigates (S-FRGs, S-HFRGs and S-LFRGs), destroyers (S-DSTs and S-DSTs), cruisers (S-CRSs and S-HCRSs), and anti-air destroyers (S-AADs and S-HAADs).
During the Clone Wars, their aquatic units have increased somewhat, with their usage of open-air single-droid submarines called Mini-subs, aquatic variants of the AATs called the Ostracoda-class gunboat, underwater carriers known as the Separatist Sub-Carriers (which had some design similarities to the Vulture-class Starfighter droid), ambush submarines, and the Manta droid subfighters.
Although comparatively rare, the Trade Federation had some aerial units, including the Long Range Air Attack Mechanisms and the Mechanized Assault Flyers.
The Trade Federation's primary battleship (and, at the time of the Naboo Crisis, their only vessel) was the Lucrehulk-class battleship, which had been modified from the Lucrehulk-class LH-3210 cargo freighter. Two variants existed: A standard battleship, and a specialized version called the Lurehulk-class Droid Control Ship that, as implied by the name, served as the central control ship for the Droid Armies.
The Core ships were created as a direct response to the end of the Naboo Crisis when the Trade Federation was forced to dismantle their ships. Specifically, it was created as a form of deception, to make the cores of the Lucrehulk-class battleships detachable so that they would only appear to have been dismantled.
Aside from the Lucrehulk-class, the only other capital ships the Trade Federation had access to during the Clone Wars were the Providence-class carrier/destroyer as well as an unidentified cruiser model used during the Second Battle of Lok.
Centuries prior to the Naboo Crisis, the Trade Federation had access to the LH-3010 capital freighter, but was eventually decommissioned. Another vessel predating the Naboo Crisis, the Trade Federation cargo haulers, had a similar design, although they were specifically stated to be much smaller than the LH-3010.
By the time of the Naboo Crisis, the Trade Federation utilized quad-wing landing ships known as the C-9979 landing craft, with each wing containing a set number of troops and vehicles (eg, 7 Platoon Attack Craft per wing, 24 AATs and 3 MTTs per fore wing, and 33 AATs per aft wing, plus three MTTs in the staging area and two MTTs in the landing pedestal). These vessels were derived in design from the commercial barges in the Federation's merchant fleet. The Trade Federation transport had a similar design to the C-9979. Although they formed the basis of the Lucrehulk-class battleships, the Lucrehulk-class LH-3210 cargo freighters themselves also saw use in the blockade and later invasion of Naboo. The Trade Federation Dropship had a similar use to the C-9979s, although in their case, they dropped necessary troops to the battlefield directly instead of landing, with its complement including either two AMTs and six B1 battle droids, or six AATs. In addition, the Neimoidian transport was used to ferry over organic troops, as unlike most other vessels in the Trade Federation, it was one of the few vessels to specifically transport organic troops instead of droids. The Sheathipede-class transport shuttles were used to deliver Trade Federation VIPs to an occupied world. The Trade Federation also had access to escort cruisers.
The Trade Federation Freighter and Trade Federation Superfreighter acted as cargo delivery vessels, with the latter being an improved version of the former and even having the former dock with it. Trade Federation gunships were also utilized. The Trade Federation shuttle utilized by then-Senator Nute Gunray had some similarities in design to the later Clone Wars-era Captor-class heavy munitions cruisers, although they delivered VIPs as well as Hunter-Killer droids.
The Trade Federation was also rumored to use Droch-class boarding ships during the Clone Wars.
Behind the scenes
The Trade Federation is the main antagonist in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, and become a core faction of a larger movement in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Although they had their onscreen debut in The Phantom Menace, their role in Palpatine's rise to power had been indirectly alluded to as early as the novelization for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, where it mentioned that Palpatine had been aided in becoming President of the Republic by "the massive organs of commerce." Their creation, and to some extent their motives and characterization in The Phantom Menace, had been part of George Lucas's response to the Republican Revolution in 1994 (which had occurred eight days into Lucas' draft-writing the screenplay for The Phantom Menace), in particular then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. The article The Trade Federation and Neimoidians: A History, written on October 14, 2014 by Tim Veekhoven, also implied that the Dutch and British East India Companies played some historical basis for the Trade Federation as well.
The Trade Federation's creation date was speculation of Michael Potts. He chose the date of 350 BBY in his timeline, based on available information, and was pleasantly surprised when his fellow Star Wars Fanboy Association member Ann Margaret Lewis used Time Tales as a reference point when writing The Essential Guide to Alien Species, and therefore established this date within continuity.
The Trade Federation's backstory and origins were substantially expanded by author Jason Fry in The Essential Atlas and The Essential Guide to Warfare. Fry posited that the Trade Federation had begun as a noble institution with a positive influence on galactic affairs, before becoming a victim of its own success and transforming into the very shipping cartel it had been formed to regulate.
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