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The TIE/D automated starfighter took the standard TIE Series command pod with twin ion engines and twin laser cannons, additional armor plating and rectangular wing panels with adjustable pitch were added. Despite their heavier armor, they could actually reach a higher atmospheric speed than the TIE/IN interceptors—overall, they were fast, small, and very expendable. A single TIE/D cost 170,000 credits.
The starfighter had rectangular solar arrays with a movable wing servo to fuel the power generator. The 6.3 meter-long craft was capable of 100 MGLT. Instead of a living pilot, the craft was equipped with a Cybot Galactica Ace-6 droid brain. The 10-kilogram unit allowed Sienar Fleet Systems to increase the TIE/D's shielding.
The TIE/D was initially developed by General Arndall Lott, one of many post-Endor warlords. Sienar Fleet Systems engineers based the TIE/D on their original TIE/LN starfighter, and as a result, many of the vehicle's design elements came from the standard TIE.
With the automation experiment of the Katana fleet as his original inspiration, General Lott's first attempts at automated combat systems were based on slaving multiple war machines to a single remote pilot. Though this method saw limited success, its overall inefficiency and susceptibility to jamming prompted a new approach.
The droid starfighters of the Clone Wars provided Imperial scientists with the basis for a new automated fighter. Every TIE/D had an integrated Cybot Galactica Ace-6 droid brain which could be updated with new tactics—despite this, it was still often easily outwitted by sentient starfighter pilots.
The finalized version of the TIE/D debuted against the New Republic on Dac, six years after the Battle of Endor. The Imperial World Devastators invaded the world in the Battle of Calamari, and their internal factories made swarms of TIE/Ds from the elements of the very world they attacked.
During the battle, TIE/D fighters were pitted against New Republic V-wings and E-wings. The massive numbers of TIE/Ds provided them with an inherent advantage, but New Republic pilots were able to outwit these drones just as Galactic Republic clone and Jedi pilots were able to outwit Separatist droid starfighters in the past. The New Republic's Rogue Squadron battled and defeated squadrons of the automated starfighters, which were attacking Mon Calamari cities.
When the tide turned against the Empire on Mon Calamari, most of their TIE/D manufacturing capability was destroyed along with the World Devastators. As their piloting ability never matched that of living pilots, the droids were eventually abandoned. The dream of a perfect automated military force would remain out of the reach of the Galactic Empire.