• Mattie Stu


Without the same resources as the Galactic Empire – a war machine of terrifying power that easily produced massive starships and swarms of starfighters – First Order engineers thrived under a less bureaucratic regime. In fact, technological innovations that may have stalled within Imperial war ministries, or ran afoul due to interservice squabbling, were produced far more efficiently. So much so that the TIE/fo space superiority fighter, whilst maintaining the look of its predecessor, was improved upon with onboard and compact deflector shield generators, not to mention thrusters rotated a further ninety-degrees for increased manoeuvrability. And while its solar-collecting arrays operated in a very similar fashion to its Imperial counterpart – a process that channeled gathered light energy through high-efficiency coils and into a reactor, where it then triggered emissions from a high-pressured radioactive fuel – the First Order fighter boasted improved solar cells and higher-capacity converters. Either innovation was a product of Imperial research conducted for the TIE Advanced programme.

Some fifty-two years after its initial introduction, the TIE fighter continued to be a symbol of power and prestige for the First Order. And with its twin ion engines and lack of a hyperdrive, it remained an attack craft reserved for short-range combat missions. But where the Empire treated its pilots as expendable, the successor state valued them as critical military assets. For example, each cadet was given extensive training in secret flight schools far from any chartered New Republic space. Not finished there, however, the First Order established an elite unit within its military known as the Special Forces. With considerable resources at their disposal, the fearsome subdivision introduced a specialised version of the TIE fighter. Known as the TIE/sf, the craft boasted improved weapons and deflector shields due to a bank of high-yield deuterium cells. Moreover, it came equipped with a hyperdrive and comprehensive communications antenna for long-range operations away from either a base or a command ship.

Perfect for assignments ranging from reconnaissance to all-out combat, the versatile attack ship made use of front-facing laser cannons, as well as a SJFS Lb-14 dual heavy laser turret at its rear. And while a singular pilot could operate either piece of weaponry, it made more sense for a secondary gunner to man the concussion and mag-pulse warhead launcher, especially due to its 360-degree field of fire. Another difference between the TIE/fo and the TIE/sf was the placement of their power units. Instead of having a singular ion reactor at its stern, the latter vessel wielded two ion reactors at either side of the command pod. Unfortunately, the greater redundancy and survivability this improvement inherently provided came with two major drawbacks. Firstly, Sienar-Jaemus Fleet Systems had to craft an experimental ion-flux cooling system in order to deal with the immense heat provided by the shield generators and power-cell banks. And secondly, every single improvement, combined with reinforced layers of alloy bracing between the command pod and each wing, made the specialised TIE fighter substantially more heavy than its standard counterpart.

Despite idolising the Galactic Empire, the First Order simply had to improve the legendary TIE fighter, whether it be with their TIE/fo or TIE/sf designs. But which of the aforementioned crafts is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

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