Why TIE Strikers Were HATED by the GALACTIC EMPIRE...
Tasked with developing and testing next-generation technology, the military design think tank on Scarif monitored the performance of prototype crafts during shakedown flights. And so, it was with their approval that the TIE/sk x1 air superiority fighter – otherwise known as the TIE striker – saw more widespread deployment. This imposing and unusual design was a bold departure from the philosophy of the Galactic Empire. In fact, it was generally frowned upon by Imperial higher-ups due to the wasteful expenditure of its atmospheric streamline, ground support cannons, tactical bombing suite, and pressurised life support systems. Moreover, the Imperial starfleet harboured much disdain for versatility and generally succeeded through its large number of specialised ships. But that's not to say it was universally hated. For example, Imperial pilots were completely enamoured by the striker's novelty and sheer power, despite its unpopular nature.
With an enlarged cockpit housing a maximum crew of two – both the pilot and an optional gunner – TIE strikers possessed large enough hulls to carry ArmaTek VL-61/79 proton bombs, SFS L-s9.3 laser cannons, and SFS H-s1 heavy laser cannons. Surprisingly, however, it utilised emergency repulsors designed to soften the blow of crash landings, given its lack of a true ejection system. So when performing low to high atmospheric patrols over Imperial ground-based installations, striker pilots had to be rather dextrous, as well as tenacious and daring. Such core skills, of course, could be attributed to most other members of the Imperial navy. But it was the ability to manoeuvre through the drag experienced in suborbital flight – or “goo”, as it was often referred to – that truly set them apart. Regardless, TIE pilot culture pitted atmospheric fliers against their space-based counterparts in a never-ending contest of oneupmanship, resulting in the back and forth name-calling of “vac-heads” and “ground hogs”.
Completely disregarding the lightweight construction and large hexagonal panels of standard TIE fighters – traits that made them difficult to manoeuvre within atmospheres and vulnerable to crosswinds – TIE strikers utilised a more rigid stabilising mass in its central hull, not to mention titling servo-mounted wings. And while its twin ion engines provided forward thrust, it utilised more advanced and specialised repulsorlifts for its atmospheric operations. These very antigravity engines reduced the overall weight of the craft, whilst repulsor-cores within the striker's body acted as invisible ailerons to sculpt the surrounding air flow. Its aerodynamic qualities were even further boosted thanks to localised repulsor fields – a design based on Geonosian starfighters. Unfortunately, the fighter's greatest strength happened to also be its greatest weakness. Even with a cockpit pressurised for atmospheric flight, nearly every single design feature was incorporated to make it an agile fighter and thus a liability in space.
Further separating the striker from its fellow fighters, the articulated solar panels maximised its vertical takeoff and landing capability – increasing lift for rapid ascent or descent – when in the upward configuration. When in the horizontal configuration, it exceeded speeds of 1,500 kilometres per hour as a blazingly fast dart. This, combined with its rapid-firing, wingtip mounted cannons made the striker unbelievably adept to aerial combat. But which TIE-series craft do you deem the most effective? Let me know in the comments below.