The high success rate of more advanced Rebel starfighters against standard Imperial TIE Fighters resulted in a mounting cost of replacing destroyed fighters. This, combined with the realization that the inclusion of a hyperdrive would allow the fleet to be more flexible, caused the Imperial Navy to rethink its doctrine of using swarms of cheap craft instead of fewer high-quality ones. It was this that had led to the introduction of the TIE Advanced x1 and its successor, the TIE Avenger, and the TIE Defender itself was touted as the next "logical advance" of the TIE series—a starfighter that was fast, well armed and capable of hyperspace travel.
Sienar Fleet Systems followed specific Imperial instruction in developing the TIE Defender, equipping it with a series of innovations over previous models. This practice of designing craft to explicit consumer specifications was one that Sienar would continue with the later Scimitar assault bomber and Aleph-class starfighter.
The pilot module was similar to those found in other TIE series fighters, with a ball cockpit and a hatch on the top for entry and egress. TIE Defender pilots were required to wear the standard TIE pilot uniform, suggesting that, like previous models, the TIE Defender lacked life support systems. However, in another departure from the design of previous TIE models, the TIE Defender featured an aft section, containing an I-s4d solar ionization reactor to store and convert solar energy, as well as the ship's thrusters. Instead of the two parallel wings found on previous TIE models, the TIE Defender had three quadanium steel solar array wings mounted around the aft section. The wings themselves appeared similar to those found on the TIE Interceptor and TIE Avenger; however, unlike on its predecessors, the wings on the TIE Defender were angled out instead of in. The inclusion of a third wing provided additional solar power to increase the ship's range and the ship's energy management system was designed to allow weapons and shields to be charged with minimum loss of power to the propulsion system.
One disadvantage of the design was an aft blind spot which could potentially be exploited by enemy fighters maneuverable enough to get behind the Defender and which was the cause of some frustration among pilots.
The TIE Defender was one of the fastest starfighters in use during the Galactic Civil War. Although it was based on the standard twin ion engine design, it was upgraded to the entirely new, powerful P-sz9.7 twin ion engine, which allowed it to travel at speeds almost 40 percent faster than a standard TIE Fighter in an atmosphere. The Defender's triple wing design allowed for three arrays of maneuvering jets and it featured an advanced F-s5x flight avionics system to process the pilot's instructions. When combined, these systems made the ship not only faster, but more agile than any other starfighter in Imperial service.
The TIE Defender also featured a hyperdrive which allowed it to operate independently of capital ships. Testing of the original prototype indicated the need for a more powerful hyperdrive and production models included a class 2, ND9 hyperdrive motivator modified from the version developed for the TIE Avenger.
The TIE Defender's weapons systems were designed to allow it to engage multiple enemy fighters as well as the armed freighters frequently used by the Alliance. It carried a formidable array of weaponry; in standard configuration it had four L-s9.3 laser cannons mounted on the two lower wings and two NK-3 ion cannons mounted on the upper wing. The laser and ion cannons could be set to fire separately or, if concentrated power was required, to fire-linked in either pairs or quartets. The ion cannons could even be fired simultaneously with the laser cannons. Two targeting sensors were located between each pair of cannons to provide the pilot with a constant stream of targeting information. The ship also featured two M-g-2 general-purpose warhead launchers on the bottom of the pilot module, each of which could be equipped with proton torpedoes or concussion missiles. Depending on the mission profile, the ship could be fitted with alternative warheads such as proton rockets, proton bombs or magnetic pulse warheads. The inclusion of warhead launchers in the design was considered audacious by some members of the design team.
The small tractor beam projector developed for the TIE Avenger could be easily fitted to the Defender, allowing the ship to inhibit the mobility of enemy fighters, making it easier to target them with the ship's other weapon systems.
The ship's defenses were provided by a reinforced titanium hull protected by a pair of forward and rear projecting Novaldex deflector shield generators—another advantage over standard TIE models. The shields were designed to recharge more rapidly than in previous Imperial fighters.
As with other TIE series fighters, the TIE Defender utilized a wheel and yoke control system. Pulling back would cause the ship to climb, pushing forward would cause it to dive and the ship could be made to bank and turn by twisting the controls. Grips on either side had the weapons trigger switches while an array of buttons and switches in the middle controlled other functions, including throttle, weapons selection and target acquisition. Manipulating rudder pedals caused maneuvering planes to expand or contract to angle engine thrust and quickly alter the ship's trajectory. The ship featured an auto-landing function to plot entry vector and landing speed, although the pilot could retain manual control if they preferred. When not in use, the ship could be left in a password controlled standby mode to prevent unauthorized use.
Various display panels inside the cockpit allowed the pilot to monitor ship's systems and the surrounding area. The main Combat Multi-view Display displayed sensor data on targeted ships while additional monitors displayed short range sensor contacts. Additional panels displayed the remaining charge of weapons, shields and tractor beam systems, current warhead load and power usage. A chronometer was used to display the mission time, or during hyperspace travel to countdown to reversion to realspace. A heads-up display assisted the pilot in aiming the ship's weapons and displayed data from the ship's threat warning system.
- Credit to Wookieepedia for the above information