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When I watched the movie The Rise of Skywalker, it seemed to me that very few TIE fighters fought during the Battle of Exegol, even though there were about a thousand Sith Star Destroyers there.

According to this SE post, How many Tie-Fighters can a Star Destroyer carry? , each Star Destroyer carries 72 TIE fighters, so there should have been approximately 72,000 TIE Fighters going after the Resistance fighters and ships during the Battle of Exegol. If all these TIE fighters had been launched at the beginning of the battle, the Resistance fleet would have probably been annihilated in about two minutes.

So, why were there so few TIE fighters during the Battle of Exegol?

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    Did they have enough pilots for all the Tie fighters? Remember, this battle was not planned, the First (Final?) Order was caught unawares.
    – Hans Olo
    Mar 11, 2020 at 14:27
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    Xyston's are bigger than Imperial-I class they share similarities with, thus it is possible they carry more fighters. At the same time you can't deploy every starfighter you have without impossibly clogging the airspace for your friendly AWACS and pilot buddies (AWACS doesn't really seem all that used in SW compared to modern fighter combat) Mar 11, 2020 at 14:53
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    @WraithLeader At the same time your opponents would presumably have their own AWACS, so if yours is better you want to saturate the combat space to the limit of your own to hopefully overwhelm theirs.
    – DavidW
    Mar 11, 2020 at 15:31
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    I think there has been the idea that these star destroyers are not fully manned, hasn't it? If so, deploying that many fighters may cause tactical stations left unattended, besides essentially filling up the already confined space between the ships completely. Mar 11, 2020 at 16:00
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    @PhilipKlöcking your idea makes sense, but emporer palpatine would have been prepared so I think that palpatine was either overconfident, or distracted by his granddaughter, rey.
    – user126198
    Mar 12, 2020 at 14:54

2 Answers 2

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Xyston-class are quite a bit larger than Imperial-I-class, so theoretically, they could hold more. Except they can't. According to Wookieepedia, an Imperial-I-class can hold 144 TIE fighters of various types, plus many walkers, a few shuttles, and some troop transports. A Xyston-class can only hold 72 TIE/dg fighters The setup for a superlaser with similar power to the ones found on the DS-I and DS-II Battle Stations takes up quite a bit of space. That is space that can't be used for TIE fighters. Also, against a 14,000+ strong fleet of larger ships (https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Battle_of_Exegol), 72,000 TIE/dg fighters, with deflector shield and 4 laser cannons (2 L-s9.6 and 2 L-7.0) (https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/TIE/dg_starfighter) probably wouldn't have been able to do much, as the Millennium Falcon alone has been known to take down at least 4 TIE fighters without getting shot down, as seen in A New Hope. It probably took down more in the Battle of Endor. A quick calculation based on 4-5 kills per ship gives us a figure of more than 63000 TIE/dg fighters without taking down any of Lando Calrissian's fleet. This doesn't even count the Resistance Navy, which had trained fighter pilots, so they would probably have higher counts. The 72,000 TIE/dg fighters could have been taken at longer range than their cannons could hit from the capital ships that Lando brought as well, likely increasing the kill count even more, probably well into the 6-figure range total. So Darth Sidious was probably holding those in reserve for his galactic conquest, especially seeing as he could use Force lightning to incapacitate the incoming ships. It seems to have been a show of contempt. In addition, the Sith Eternal military (name conjectural, see https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Sith_Eternal_military), a branch of Sith cultists (https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Sith_cultist), were Palpatine's military force. According to Wookieepedia, Kylo Ren slaughtered most of the cult on Mustafar to assert dominance while looking for the source of a broadcast of Palpatine's voice. This implies that they may have been low on numbers which would make it hard to staff the 77760+ TIE/dg fighters on the 1080+ Star Destroyers.

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  • The question seems to agree that there should have been 72k TIE fighters, but asks why they weren't seen; at the very least there should have been several clouds a substantial fraction the size of the Citizens' Fleet. This seems very conjectural, since in previous movies the number of kills made by capital ships against starfighters, on either side, is very low, and you don't establish that the First Order wouldn't be able to find that many pilots.
    – DavidW
    Aug 10, 2021 at 16:12
  • Much of this is inference based on either direct evidence in the films or data on Wookiepedia. Also, a 77760+ strong cloud of TIE fighters would make a pretty big target to miss (my ideas for the capital ships would not have been close quarters, but thinning the flock from long range). And while they might be able to find the pilots, it's not incredibly likely as Kylo Ren slaughtered many of the Sith cultists. I do see where you're coming from, but one of my other points, Palpatine's contempt of the opposition, has been seen before in places like the Battle of Endor, so there is still that. Aug 10, 2021 at 16:22
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This is addressed in the (canon) Star Wars: Battles that Changed the Galaxy factbook. In brief, the Final Order had more than enough TIE Daggers to confidently 'crush' the rebel fleet of little ships, but the concern was that releasing swarms of TIEs into the battlespace would result in deadly crossfires that would end up damaging the capital ships rather than protecting them.

The sudden arrival of the Resistance triggered the engagement but also highlighted that neither the First Order nor the Sith Eternal had adequately learned the lessons of the Battle of Endor regarding anti-starfighter operations in close-proximity fleet battles. The Xyston-class Star Destroyers could only use their ion cannons for fear of hitting each other. Similarly, while there were enough TIE daggers available to crush the Resistance threat, they too were reluctant to overwhelm the opposition in case they damaged the vulnerable capital ships in the process.

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