|Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptor|
Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptor
|Maximum speed (atmosphere)||
Class 1.0 (with booster ring, 150,000 LY range)
The Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptor, sometimes referred to as the Jedi interceptor due to its popularity with Jedi pilots, was a Clone Wars-era Republic starfighter that shared design elements of the Delta-7 Aethersprite-class "Jedi starfighter" and the TIE/ln starfighter of the later Galactic Empire.
At 5.47 meters in length, the Eta-2 was significantly shorter than the already diminutive Delta-7. The new fighter's mass was further reduced by removing much of the forward spaceframe, leaving the front of the ship in a forked shape. Like its predecessor, it was also too small to hold an onboard hyperdrive. Because of this, the Eta-2 had to rely on carrier vessels or hyperspace transport rings for long-distance travel. However, the Actis did have room for a full astromech droid, instead of a truncated unit as was fitted into the Aethersprite.
Like the simultaneously developed ARC-170 starfighter and Alpha-3 Nimbus-class V-wing starfighter, the Eta-2 incoporated S-foils to radiate excess engine heat in the thick of combat, reducing the likelihood of damage to the the craft. Occasionally, though not always, the lifting panels were opened during normal flight to further reduce stress on the engines. This design element would be carried on through the radiator panels of later TIE fighters, which, though unlike the Eta-2's foils were locked in static positions, served the same purpose.
Thanks mostly to the fact that its development occurred in the midst of a galactic civil war, the Eta-2 had more firepower at its disposal than the Delta-7—two large laser cannons and two ion cannons. While the size of its guns provided it with respectable firepower, the fighter's limited power systems restricted it's ability to fire continuously. Raith Sienar's twin ion engine design allowed the Eta-2 to achieve a maximum acceleration of 5,200 g. Unlike the Delta-7, the Eta-2 was not equipped with shields.
Eta-2s that were flown by the Jedi were stripped down for even faster performance. Heavy sensors and flight instruments were removed, since they were unnecessary for a pilot with precognitive Force abilities. While most Jedi pilots flew Eta-2s more in line with the factory standard, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, whose fighters were red- or blue-hued against a white undercoat, some chose to customize theirs with unorthodox color schemes. Anakin Skywalker's first craft was painted a bright yellow color against a metallic undercoat. He lost it in the Second Battle of Coruscant when Invisible Hand broke in half and temporarily flew under a more standard green and white paint scheme, which he used in the Mission to Mustafar, where he presumably left it. As Vader, he would soon recieve a new black Eta-2. Saesee Tiin's was green and Mace Windu's purple, chosen presumably to complement the lightsaber glow of each Jedi.
The Eta-2 Actis was designed by Kuat Systems Engineering, following up on its success with the Aethersprite. Although it included and improved upon many design elements of the latter, it was much smaller and more practical than its predecessor, allowing far more Eta-2 ships to fit into hangars that could only hold a handful of Delta-7 craft. This concept led to much wider production and use in the Republic Navy than the Delta-7 had seen, since it had been designed exclusively for the Jedi. It would also inspire the design and size rules that made the TIE fighters of the later Empire so cheap, modular, and effective.
The Alpha/Delta/Eta line was sold to Sienar some years after the Galactic Republic became the Galactic Empire. Elements of the Eta-2 Actis design were used in the creation of Sienar Fleet Systems's TIE Fighter—most notably the vertical radiator panels and twin ion engines, not to mention the spoked viewing port, which was expanded in its TIE successor to become the fighter's main viewport.
The greatest legacy of the Actis-class, however, was the philosophy behind it—that smaller, unshielded, and relatively underequipped fighters, when mass-produced using cheap materials and methods, could be ultimately more effective than a lesser quantity of more expensive, high-quality starfighters. This opinion not only ushered in the dominance of the TIE series but spurred the phasing out of higher-quality fighters like the ARC-170. It would come back to bite the Imperial Navy, however, when the ARC's successor, the T-65 X-wing starfighter, proved far superior to the TIE/ln swarms of the Empire and was pivotal in the defeat of the Empire in the Galactic Civil War.
During the Galactic Civil War, some Eta-2s still remained operational in the Imperial Navy and were reserved for skilled pilots. Others were captured and used by the Rebel Alliance, with similar requirements.