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In Episode II we see the early plans for the Death Star (initially developed by the Separatist Geonosians, led by Poggle the Lesser) at the Battle of Geonosis:

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The Battle of Geonosis was the first battle of the Clone Wars, and prior to that battle the Separatist Council was not even aware of the existence of the clone army (only the Sith knew, since they were playing both sides). Indeed, the Separatists were confident that their combined droid armies would give them military superiority over the Republic:

With these new battle droids we've built for you, you'll have the finest army in the galaxy.

Wat Tambor, Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones

If the Separatists (excluding the Sith) were so confident in their droid armies, why did they also develop plans for the Death Star? A planet-killing superweapon seems like massive overkill from the non-Sith Separatists' perspective. And considering that it took decades for the Empire to build the Death Star, how could the Separatists have thought that it'd be useful before the war was over? With the Republic apparently defenseless the Separatists must have thought that the war with the Republic would have been a short and easy victory for them.

Of course, the Sith wanted to develop the Death Star since they were controlling both sides of the war and wanted to use it when they conquered the galaxy. But the other Separatists did not know of these plans, so why would the other Separatist leaders (who all seemed to be aware of the Death Star plans) want to develop the Death Star?

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    I guess It's not the Separatists that planned the Death Star, but Palpatine and his Republic minions.The Sith are smooth talkers. Who can resist the promise of an ultimate weapon? – Petersaber Jan 30 '17 at 21:19
  • @Petersaber No, it was initially designed by the Geonosians. – Null Jan 30 '17 at 21:21
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    @Petersaber As far as the Separatists knew, the Republic had no army. They would have thought that the war would be short, especially with their combined droid armies. They certainly wouldn't think they'd be fighting for 20 years (the time it took the Empire to build the Death Star). Such a weapon would be a huge sink on their funding and manufacturing (and it wouldn't be ready until long after the war would be over), so it's a waste of resources that could have been used to build more droids. – Null Jan 30 '17 at 21:56
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    @Null Is there any indication that they actually intended to build it? Having blueprints and drawn plans doesn't necessarily mean intending to go through with a physical construction. It may have been a useful thing to have as a contingency plan if the wars ended up being a protracted long-term thing. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 30 '17 at 22:01
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    Massive lobbying efforts / bribes by Geonosian military contractors? – microtherion Jan 30 '17 at 23:46
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There are two points to consider in answer to this question.

When taking on something the size of the Galactic Republic, one does not stop with Plan A.

The Separatists were standing against the Republic, and yes, they had a huge droid army. And, of course, the people responsible for procuring that army said it would wipe all the foes from the table. Who DOESN'T tell their customers/government that their solution solves all problems?

But Plan A can always fail. The Republic could end up getting the upper hand, or destroy stocks of the droid army, or find better ways to jam the commands, or find an exploit in the command and control system, or find a bug in their artificial intelligence that allows Republic soldiers to literally walk circles around the droid army.

As such, the Separatists had a Plan B (which just so happened to be right up Palpatine's alley), the Death Star. It would take much more time to build, and take many more resources than the droid army, but it would ALSO serve as a blockbuster weapon to break any stalemate they might have experienced in the future.

More than one group of people can work on separate plans at once.

There were likely many skunkworks projects being developed by the Separatists at this time, from Death Stars to toxic bantha fodder. ALL the ideas were on the table, and the more promising ideas were promoted to the top, even the far-fetched ones. Win, lose, or draw, a Death Star would be a handy thing to have, if it could be built.

LEGENDS: Superweapons were just a thing people did in that galaxy far, far away.

The Star Wars galaxy is FULL of superweapons, starting with Centerpoint Station and going on through multiple Death Stars, World Devistators, superlasers mounted on ships, etc., etc., etc. The Sith Empire had superweapons. The ancestors of our heroes centuries+ BBY had superweapons. The Tarkin doctrine wasn't so much a new plan that needed superweapons so much as it was an explanation on how a superweapon could be used to enforce fear.

Finally, a real life example:

The US Army was pretty confident that it could storm Japan; it was called Operation Downfall. Operation Olympic would capture the south third of Kyushu, using Okinawa as a stage. Six months later, Operation Coronet was planned to invade Kanto.

It was planned to be the largest amphibious operation in history.

Of course, the problem was that Japanese geography made planning the invasion simple; there was only really one good way to do it. And the Japanese knew it too. The Japanese empire planned an all-out defense of their main island. And as Japan slowly lost control over the Pacific, they were drawing back planning for that ultimate defense.

Casualty estimates ran into the millions for Allied soldiers. And the casualties on the Japanese side were even higher.

And this is just a conflict on one measly little planet in the spare bedroom of the galaxy.

Yes, even though the Separatist government used droids, not living beings, those droids do have a non-zero cost. It takes time and effort to build them, transport them, program them; any "conventional" operation would include massive losses on both sides.

But both these situations had a superweapon: on Earth, it was the Atom Bomb.

But, like the Death Star, the Atom Bomb wasn't some solution pulled out of the air at the end of the war. Development on an atomic bomb began during the war, with production running throughout, in a deadly race of fear that the other side would figure it out first.

Dropping the bombs ended the war with Japanese surrender, and lead to millions of soldiers NOT becoming casualties on the American side. (There was, of course, a death toll on the other side that should not be forgotten about.)

The key here is, the Death Star, like the Atomic Bomb, was hoped to be at least a backstop, if not a replacement, for massive losses in the droid army.

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    I'm not convinced that the atomic bomb analogy is apt. For one, many Republic senators were opposed to commissioning an army for the Republic -- the Republic was hardly a military threat, as far as the Separatists knew. Furthermore, the atomic bomb was developed in part out of fear that the Axis was developing one -- but the Separatists had no evidence that the Republic was building a Death Star. The Separatists thought they were opposing the galactic equivalent of neutral Switzerland, not an aggressive and genocidal Japanese Empire and Nazi Germany. – Null Jan 31 '17 at 1:14
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    One additional thing btw......the dreadnought (ion cannon battleship) the separatists had relatively at the beginning of the clone wars very probably was also designed and started to be built BEFORE the wars. (and could easily count as a superweapon....fleet destroyer) – Thomas Jan 31 '17 at 4:49
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    @Null It's fear that drives development of superweapons, as you say. Sure, the Senate doesn't want an army, but that doesn't mean there isn't one (in fact, that's the exact story of the Grand Army, right? Nobody knew in the Senate until it was a done deed). More than ever, the Sepratists would need some Big Finish; if nothing else, Mon Cal, Kuat, and Corellia could scrounge together a fearsome fleet on the sly. We've gotta think big, it's a big galaxy. Sepratists NEEDED a Plan B; if they could build up an army in secret, a senate subcomittee could, too. – Zoey Boles Jan 31 '17 at 6:36
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Firstly, the Geonosians were never really Seperatists per see because they were never part of the Republic. They were independent contractors designing and building droid factories for Baktoid who in turn sold said droids to the Trade Federation (who BTW, were also not Separatists, at least on paper.)

It ties into a common misconception that the meeting Kenobi witnessed in AotC was the forming of the Seperatist movement, when in fact it was a business deal between the already established Seperatists (whom Dooku represented) and the various commerce guilds to supply them with arms and equipment and remain officially neutral in the conflict.

Secondly, it's stated in 'Catalyst' that the Geonosians didn't come up with the initial design at all, only refined it.

"The captive Geonosian leader, Poggle the Lesser, maintained that Count Dooku had provided Poggle’s hive with the basic plans, and that the Geonosians had merely refined them."

It's not stated outright but it seems evident that the design ultimately came from Darth Sidious. Where he got it from is still an open question, but given Yoda's line in the Utapau Story Reels about the ancient Sith building superweapons powered by giant kybers one can surmise that it may have been based on an old Sith design. Albeit one lacking the details on how to actually build it, which is why it was handed off to the Geonosian engineers and why it took a genius like Galen to figure out how to make the weapon operational.

So to answer the question: the Seperatists weren't designing the Death Star at all, Darth Tyranus was using his influence as Dooku to have the Geonosians design it for him on behalf of Sidious who, as we all know was playing the long game.

  • I don't see how this answers the question. You spend the first 90% of it nitpicking, e.g. that the Geonosians weren't small-s "separatists" (despite the fact that Poggle the Lesser was on the Separatist Council and therefore a capital-s Separatist), and conclude with a re-statement of the fact that the Sith were the ones who were really behind it. -1. It's a shame I had to DV this, though, because your links/quotes are otherwise intriguing. – Null Jan 31 '17 at 0:49
  • I was merely framing the answer since the question had several fundamental assumptions that were misinformed. By all accounts the Seperatists member worlds had no knowledge of the Death Star's existence. It was entirely a Sith operation that (quite typically) used both sides of the conflict to get this thing made. – Kris Jan 31 '17 at 0:58
  • It's fine to address assumptions that you think are "misleading", but you still need to answer the question. I'm trying to figure out why the Separatist leaders (who did seem to know about the Death Star, as they were present when Dooku took the plans) thought the Death Star would be useful/necessary when they thought their combined armies could easily defeat a Republic that did not, to their knowledge, have an army. Your conclusion does nothing but re-state what I've already said in the question. – Null Jan 31 '17 at 1:06
  • As I said, the people in that room weren't the political body of the Seperatists (which as I said is a common misconception), they were a bunch of corporate bigwigs selling weapons to Dooku. So the question about them being in the room becomes moot. – Kris Jan 31 '17 at 9:13
  • For reference: these guys are the Separatist leaders, not that cabal of corporate bigwigs selling weapons to Dooku, which as I said is a common misconception. Aside from Poggle and his hive, very few people knew about this thing, even after Dooku took it back to Sidious and it became a Republic project. Also the plan wasn't to defeat the Republic but to defend themselves as an independent state. Remember, the Sith were playing both sides against the middle. The Death Star was always meant for the Empire. – Kris Jan 31 '17 at 9:23

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