The Picard Maneuver basically boils down to: "surprise your enemy by jumping right next to him and unload all your cannons". However, Trek canon makes a bit more of a technological fuss about how it works.

Seeing that the Star Wars universe also has FTL travel, I wondered if:

  1. the Picard Maneuver would be technically possible in SW and

  2. if there are any references (probably by a different name) in the SW universe.

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    Sure, tugging on either side of your uniform shirt to straighten it should work for any universe. :)
    – K-H-W
    Feb 11, 2012 at 20:37
  • @Jeff - your edit misspelled it too! :) Feb 11, 2012 at 20:42
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    The "technological fuss" for it working in Star Trek was required - the way the Warp drive works causes the Picard Maneuver to create a momentary illusion of 2 ships. Hyperspace forms of FTL won't do the same thing.
    – Izkata
    Feb 11, 2012 at 22:17
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    Anakin Skywalker attempted something similar to this in the Clone wars tv series. Although his ship was smaller and he didn't open fire on the enemy target, instead he left hyperspace as close as possible to the ship and cloaked his ship.
    – Jared
    Apr 2, 2012 at 23:14
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4 Answers 4


Hyperspace would not be conductive to this sort of thing - it's too fast, and you are effectively sensor-blind while in hyperspace. No one can see you coming, but you can't see them either.

SW hyperspace jumps have to be very finely computed, and they are hard to do with fine control - many times in the EU we see ships that don't compute their jumps very finely come out kilometers away from where they wanted. This would make the maneuver difficult to accomplish.

That said, the range of SW turbolasers is greater than standard visual range, and their targeting computers are very good (at least at targeting large ships - the typical targets for turbolasers).

In the EU we often see Star Destroyers (and occasionally other capital ships) begin firing within seconds of exiting hyperspace, given just enough time to identify their targets.

In short, yes and no. It wouldn't be effective in single-ship combat or as a tactic for a surprise attack at the start of combat. It IS, however, a common tactic for large ships when attacking a fleet with a known (or strongly suspected) location or a planetary fortification. You aren't going to jump into hyper to attack the ship that just opened fire on you, but you WILL begin firing as soon as you come out of hyper when you're assaulting a planet or stronghold.

  • 1
    The rebel attack at the end of RotJ doesn't exactly qualify as Picard manoeuvre. Also, the fact that you can't see your enemy doesn't really rule out the P.M. if you can pre-compute the firing sequence before you jump to hyperspace, right?
    – bitmask
    Feb 11, 2012 at 20:47
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    @bitmask: You simply can't make a jump that short in hyper - 'microjumps' are nearly impossible to compute with any chance of success.
    – Jeff
    Feb 12, 2012 at 0:08
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    @HNL: Immediately after a ship jumps, there is a visual artifact, but there's no way of knowing if they quickly dropped out and hypered in a different direction.
    – Jeff
    Feb 12, 2012 at 18:25
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    As an unrelated aside, this type of 'Picard Manoeuvre' attack happens quite often in Babylon 5. An exit jump-point takes the form of a sort of 'tunnel', so capital ships are often unloading fighters and firing main weapons even before they have fully emerged: vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/babylon5/images/7/74/…
    – flith
    Jul 14, 2016 at 12:59
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    The scene where they jump into combat in ROTJ seems to be the best indication of the problem: they exit hyperspace very far from the Death Star, in spite of knowing there would be enemy ships that would intercept them. If they had the accuracy needed, they could have jumped in right beside it, thus reducing the mission time and limiting the direction of the counterattack. Oct 27, 2016 at 15:45

This actually happens a few times in the EU, specifically the Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire series. He accomplishes his trick by using Interdictor Cruisers to create artificial gravity wells along a cone-shaped projection, which he then lines up with enemy ships. His ships are pulled out of hyperspace into perfect pre-planned firing positions, fire a few broadsides, and then peel away.

  • 1
    This isnt really the picard maneuver but it is similar.
    – Chad
    Apr 3, 2012 at 13:15
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    Who is "he"? Zahn, or a character?
    – Wolfie Inu
    Nov 13, 2015 at 6:39

Yes and no. In the (Disney canon) Tarkin novel, a warship executes a 'microjump' to jump in front of a vessel that it had been chasing. This is actually a pretty clever step because the presence of fighters milling around seems to prevent the ship from being able to calculate a jump to hyperspace, nor can they turn around at speed.

This is distinct from the Picard maneuver, however, as it doesn't rely on the vessel creating a false sensor track as much as simply disappearing and reappearing somewhere highly unexpected.

“Transponder signature identifies it as the Goliath,” Cala continued. “Capable of carrying a wing of starfighters. Armed with ten Taim and Bak H-eights and a Krupx missile delivery system. Not much in the way of shields—”
“I’m not interested in testing its mettle,” Teller said.
“It could be here simply to refuel,” Artoz said, sounding unconvinced.
Abruptly, the escort vanished from the screen.
“Where’d it go?” Anora asked.
And just as abruptly the escort reappeared—now visible through the forward viewports.
“Microjump!” Cala said. “And deploying starfighters!”

Tarkin: A Novel


The Picard Maneuver works due to how the the FTL drive works. In Star Wars, though it isn't well held to, Hyper drive works by having sub-space corridors that the drive allows one to access and exit. They have pre-set paths and pre-set entrances and exits. This being the case the picard maneuver is impossible in Star Wars.

If it was possible to enter and exit FTL like in Star Trek, then not only would it "work", it would be a massive advantage against everyone but Force Users, supposing no one else could do it. Force Users wouldn't be at a disadvantage because they could sense the movement and tell where the ship is and because the force works faster than light speed they'd not be affected at all by it.

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