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The TIE Interceptor is a major improvement over the standard Imperial TIE Fighter. It is superior to its predecessor in every conceivable way, except possibly its larger profile when viewed from the side. It is faster, more agile, has twice the firepower, and is roughly twice as durable.
In response to their defeat at Yavin, the Empire sought a fighter that was still able to be mass produced in large numbers, but could hold its own against well-trained Rebel pilots flying very capable starfighters. The TIE Interceptor's bent-wing shape was derived from Darth Vader's iconic TIE Advanced x1. It is built on the same "TIE ball" cockpit and wing struts as the standard TIE Fighter, but the chin-mounted laser cannon are replaced by four such cannon at the leading tips of its wings.This upgrade made it more capable of dealing with well-shielded Rebel fighters, but, like most TIE variants, TIE Interceptors lacked built-in warhead launchers. Its engines are upgraded, improving speed to nearly that of the Rebel A-wing. Agility is improved as well. These traits, combined with a strengthened hull that is more resistant to laser fire, greatly improve a TIE pilot's chances of surviving and winning in battles against opponents of the Empire. In skilled hands, a TIE Interceptor is a dangerous opponent. In fact, many of the Empire's highest-scoring aces used the TIE Interceptor as their craft of choice, even when they had access to newer, more advanced craft.
Similar to most fighters in the TIE series, it lacks a hyperdrive and is dependent on fixed bases or motherships, such as Star Destroyers, to operate. As such, it is a short-range fighter, like its older cousin. It also saves space, weight, and costs by omitting life support systems, instead relying on the pilot's flight suit apparatus to keep the pilot alive and in fighting condition in the vacuum of space.
However, exceptions exist. In TIE Fighter, the player character earns access to uprated TIE Interceptors which feature one-shot warhead launchers and shield generators. There is also evidence in some Star Wars comic books of customized TIE Interceptors with "backpacks" containing a hyperdrive, at the expense of sub-light speed and agility. These upgrades put it on even par in a one-on-one fight with the exceptional designs fielded by the Rebel Alliance. However, these modifications were rare, and most TIE Interceptor pilots relied, as usual for TIE pilots of any type, on coordinated attacks in large numbers to bring down their foes.
Baron Soontir Fel, the Empire's most decorated ace, flew a TIE Interceptor with horizontal red bars on the solar panels. This became the standard marking of TIEs in Fel's elite 181st TIE Squadron, from which Kasan Moor defects in Rogue Squadron.
Imperial Royal Guards also had access to a specialized, red-painted TIE Interceptor for use in missions under Emperor's personal direction.