Is there a specific meaning behind the TIE designation used in the names for the Galactic Empire's starfighters (TIE Bomber, TIE Fighter, and TIE Interceptor) and if so what is it?

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    – Null
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 14:01

3 Answers 3


TIE stands for Twin Ion Engine - sub-light propulsion technology behind these small fighter/bomber crafts.

TIE itself is not initially associated with the Empire, but the Empire commissioned these fighters on such a large scale that it made them their signature craft during the Galactic Civil War.

Out-of-universe, the name was coined by George Lucas, because they look like a bow tie.

From Wiki Legends article on TIE Series, also here

Though the term "TIE Fighter" was coined because George Lucas thought they looked like bow ties, the ion engine is a real-life type of spacecraft propulsion, and publicity surrounding the launch of the SMART-1 spacecraft, particularly the shuttle Smart-1, likened its ion thruster to the propulsion systems of a TIE Fighter.

  • 18
    Of course real-life ion thrusters have incredibly low acceleration, but can run for ages on a small amount of fuel/power. The complete opposite of the TIE engines.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 11:47
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    @TimSparrow That retcon has been reinforced by the Kessel Run being featured in the new "Solo" movie, under circumstances that make it seem more impressive than the original retcon, but means that the original quote (Ben Kenobi: Yes indeed, if it's a fast ship Han Solo: Fast ship? [..] It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs) makes less sense. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 12:13
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    @DavidRicherby In the ancient Greek epic, Argonautica, Jason and his crew take their ship (the Argo) through the Clashing Rocks. Taking this shortcut required that their ship be fast enough to get through before the rocks could reopen and then clash together again to crush the ship - meaning that because of a combination of Jason's cleverness and the Argo's speed they could complete their journey in a shorter distance, and thus time. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 13:46
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    @Chronocidal I applaud your erudition and lateral thinking, but that's mighty contrived. :-) Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 13:47
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    @DavidRicherby In old canon before Disney discarded it, the Kessel Run involved going around a cluster of black holes called The Maw. Paths closer to The Maw were shorter but more dangerous, requiring a faster ship to not get trapped by the heavy gravity. Contrived, yes, but it does explain the quote.
    – Douglas
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 17:00

Twin Ion Engine

This is mentioned in various canon sources but the easiest one for me to reference from is Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles. This includes the following pages where the TIE Striker and TIE Reaper have their models referred to as "Twin Ion Engine striker x1" and "Twin Ion Engine reaper".

Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles, TIE Fighter and TIE Reaper


From the Star Wars wiki:

The TIE series derived its name from the SIE-TIE twin ion engine (...)

[from the link above] The twin ion engine system was a sublight drive system that was first invented about the time of the Jedi Civil War.

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    is there another canon ?
    – GlorfSf
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 11:46
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    We're talking about engines here, not cannons. d;
    – aslum
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 13:39
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    @aslum - TIE fighters do in fact have two cannons though.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 18:03
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    @T.E.D. They thought about naming them Twin Ion Cannon fighters, but the controls on the TIC fighters proved to be too jerky for pilots to handle :P
    – Ben Sutton
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 18:06
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    @aslum - ... and they make that noise (with a bit of a scream added). You're on a roll today!
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 18:06

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