As designed, the E-wing was intended to match, or exceed, the performance of the preceding X-wing series in nearly every respect, and was originally intended to replace the older design in New Republic service. However, the craft suffered from some significant problems when first deployed among front-line squadrons, including malfunction issues with the laser cannons and the new R7 astromech units. As a result, many pilots continued to fly upgraded versions of the venerable X-wing.
Despite the initial problems, improved models of the E-wing would see wide spread use by the New Republic, particularly by the Fifth Fleet, and later by the Galactic Alliance. They would play a significant role in every engagement from the Black Fleet Crisis, through the Yuuzhan Vong War, and beyond.
By the time of the Second Galactic Civil War, the E-wing had matured into an excellent starfighter design and equipped several elite squadrons of the Galactic Alliance. However, it never achieved the same popularity or wide spread use as the X-wing.
The E-wing was considered an excellent combination of firepower, maneuverability, speed, and armor, but initial models required the use of the R7-series astromech droid, which was exclusively built for the E-wing.
The spaceframe of the E-wing was surrounded by two aerodynamic foils which provided stability and increased weapons ability. The nosecone contained the starfighter's powerful sensors, while a concealed astromech droid could easily be positioned midway through the craft. Directly in front of the astromech slot was the cockpit.
The fighter was heavily armed with three laser cannons and one proton torpedo launcher with a magazine of sixteen torpedoes. Like most Rebel designs, the lasers were spread out and could be set to converge at varying distances.
A single E-wing cost 185,000 credits.
Much of the great cost of the E-wing came from the use of the R7 droid, a much more sophisticated and expensive astromech than the classic R2 and R5 astromechs. Later models of the E-wing starfighters were however able to interface with earlier astromech models, such as an R2 or R5 unit.
The Republic introduced the E-wing during Grand Admiral Thrawn's campaign to rebuild the fallen Empire. The fighter later served in the fight against the "resurrected" Palpatine. Built with cutting-edge weapons, shielding, and propulsion systems, the fighter was extremely powerful and well-rounded. It was intended as an escort fighter and could also serve as a medium-range assault craft. It had enough speed to counter TIE/In starfighters and had better armor than other New Republic starfighters, including the X-wing. They were used by the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances during the Second Galactic Civil War, during early skirmishes with Corellia.
The E-wing had some initial teething problems relating to the placement of the wing lasers near the outboard engines. The synthetic Tibanna used for the lasers tended to degrade at accelerated rates, which swiftly rendered those guns near-useless (and cutting gun firepower to a third). Rebel engineers came up with a temporary solution during the World Devastator assault on Mon Calamari. Those problems were eventually resolved and the fighter entered fleet service. It is known to have served at least with the New Republic's Fifth Fleet as the primary fleet space superiority fighter. When the Fifth Fleet was moved to the Koornacht Cluster during the Black Fleet Crisis, many E-wings saw action against the Yevetha in the conflict that ensued.
Four major models appeared to have been designed; the last (Series IV) was introduced around the time of the capture of Coruscant by the Yuuzhan Vong. By that point in the war, the XJ X-wing was rapidly equipping most squadrons in the massive military expansion; the more sophisticated E-wing may have been limited to some elite squadrons. The Series IV E-wing remained in service through the transition from New Republic to Galactic Alliance, and was still in operation as of the Second Galactic Civil War.