I think you’ll all agree with me when I say that the TIE Fighter is the worst fighter in the Star Wars universe.
Let’s get down to the basics: this is officially called the TIE/ln Space Superiority Fighter. In practice, it’s often just commonly called the TIE Fighter. Rebel pilots often nickname it “Evil-Eyes” or “Eye-Ball”.
Sienar Fleet Systems mass produced this fighter. In fact, Raith Sienar himself designed it. This only makes the TIE Fighter’s design all the more questionable.
The TIE Fighter measures 7.24 m/23.7 feet long, 8.8 m/28.9 ft wide, and is 8.82 m/28.9 ft tall. It’s propelled by twin ion engines that are capable of accelerating the TIE Fighter up to 1200 kph in atmosphere: equivalent to 746 mph or Mach 0.98. The engines also produce a distinctive screeching/howling noise when in operation. The psychological effect this noise has on an enemy is similar to that of the Jericho trumpets originally mounted on the Ju 87 “Stuka” dive bombers, only mounted on a much less effective platform.
And now we have come to the end of the TIE Fighter’s good features. That’s it. The rest of this article will now be about how absolutely sucky it is. Now, let’s begin:
1. No Shields
Deflector shields are everywhere in the Star Wars universe. Whether it’s ray shields to counter directed energy weapons, particle shields to counter high-velocity projectiles and proton torpedoes, or concussion shields to counter large, slow-moving objects and debris; nearly every ship has them. In fact, it’s easier to list ships that don’t have shields than it is to do the opposite. Unfortunately, the TIE Fighter is one of them.
Out of the all the fighters of the Rebel Alliance and Imperial Navy alike, the TIE Fighter is the only one without shields. The fact that the A-Wing has shields and yet is faster than the TIE fighter is solid proof that shields could absolutely be mounted on it.
So why doesn’t it have shields? The canon answer is that the lack of shield generators decreased the cost and mass of the TIE Fighter. Yeah, not good enough. Those are definitely not good enough to offset the lack of shields.
2. Very Poor Armor
What’s amazing is that the TIE Fighter even has armor to begin with. Not that the armor actually does anything useful, but it’s the thought that counts.
The only part of the TIE Fighter that has armor is its windshield. Yes, really. Those panes that look like glass are actually made out of transparisteel. The windows are apparently blaster-proof, but only for handheld models.
Even then, the rest of the hull isn’t handheld blaster-proof. The bits that are supposedly metal can be cracked and punctured by micro-meteor impacts, let alone blasters. In particular, the stabilizers connecting the wings to the cockpit were especially weak, and could be set on fire by a single blaster hit.
So yeah, Han Solo can’t shoot through the windows, but he can shoot it literally anywhere else with his DL-44 heavy blaster pistol and punch right through that “metal” hull. Good job, Sienar Fleet Systems.
3. Poor Weapons
The TIE Fighter isn’t just poorly armored, but its weapons are just as bad.
The TIE Fighter’s sole weapon is a pair of fixed, forward-firing L-s1 laser cannons. Yes, really. There’s nothing else. You can stop looking for them now. There ain’t nothing else here.
The laser cannons don’t even have the decency to be actual lasers, which would’ve been much more useful. They’re the same “laser” cannons that the Star Wars universe uses. I can’t even begin to tell you how having only 2 laser cannons limits the TIE Fighter’s firepower and effectiveness. This is especially true given that every fighter in use by the Rebel Alliance can fire guided missiles. Sending TIE Fighters against the likes of the X-Wing, A-Wing, and the B-Wing is like sending WWII-era propeller fighters against modern jet fighters.
4. No Hyperdrive
The TIE Fighter may be fast, but it’s definitely not faster than a fighter jumping to light-speed.
Without any hyperdrive system, the TIE Fighter is severely limited in its options. Any hyper-capable ship it chases can just jump to light-speed, and be gone in a flash. The TIE Fighter would have no way to pursue. Even worse, it’d have to return to its mothership so that she can continue the chase, slowing down the pursuit even further. What kind of a system is this?
According to canon lore, the lack of a hyperdrive is part of an anti-theft system. Yes, really. Having no hyperdrive would prevent any would-be thieves from just jumping into a TIE Fighter and running off with it. But really, who would want to steal such a useless thing?
Okay, yeah, you could always get one of those thieves. But really, making a fighter useless so that almost all thieves wouldn’t even bother steal it creates more problems than it solves.
5. No Life Support
At this point, having no life support systems is just adding insult to injury.
Apparently, in their infinite wisdom, the Imperial Navy decided that having no life support systems on their TIE Fighters was a wonderful idea. That’s right, aside from rudimentary oxygen scrubbers and pressurized seals on the hatches, the TIE Fighter has no means of keeping its pilot alive. You know, the one responsible for flying the fighter and making it work as a weapon?
This is actually why the TIE Fighter pilots all wear pressurized spacesuits. Since their fighters won’t help them live, they need a suit to do it all on their own. Surprisingly, this is a smart move on the part of the TIE pilots. Fighters in general are fragile, and will easily take damage that either causes air to leak out or even outright takes out the life support system entirely. Having a space suit would mean that the pilot won’t instantly choke to death if the fighter takes even the slightest puncture.
It’s such a shame that such a smart decision happens only because the fighter is so lousy.
The TIE Fighter pilots should really just go on strike. Failing that, the Imperial Navy needs new admirals. Ones that have brains.
If the Imperial Navy had brains, it might’ve ended up more like this instead: