What follows below is the version of the page as it existed on January 6, 2003. I have created these back-ups for the sake of historical accuracy, since my site and its pages will continue to evolve long after StarDestroyer.Net's attempted "attack on [my] credibility" is forgotten.
[A work in progress . . .]
Number of Planets, Territorial Size, Total Population, Planetary Defense Systems
Fleet Ship Count, Power Generation (Reactor) Technology, Reactor Power
Beam Weapons, Missile Weapons, Weapons Ranges
Faster-than-Light Propulsion, Slower-than-Light Propulsion
Antigravity Technology, Sensor Systems, Fighter Craft, Special (Unique) Tech, Tactics and Strategy, Ground Combat Tech
Other Special Advantages, Other Special Disadvantages, General Observations not fitting elsewhere.
|United Federation of Planets||Galactic Empire|
|Planets||In "Metamorphosis"[TOS], Kirk told Cochrane that "we're
on a thousand
planets and spreading out". Whether he referred to Earth colonies or
total Federation planets is uncertain. What we do know is that by the
later TNG era, it was decided to make the UFP a sort of interstellar UN
analog, and the number of Federation members was more or less fixed
in the 150 range (as per Picard in First Contact).|
There are also Federation protectorates, as we saw in Insurrection, and planets with "associate membership" status, as mentioned in "Attached"[TNG]. Finally, there's the apparently-large number of colonies.
If Kirk referred solely to Earth colonies, and every other Federation member world had at least 10, the total number of Federation colonies would be about 2500. However, the only total planetary count we have for certain is 1000 (even though that was a hundred years ago), giving an absolute minimum of 150 member worlds and 850 colonies, with an unknown number of Associates and Protectorates.
Final Tally: ~ 1,000 total systems, minimum. ~ 5,000, estimated.
|Moff Tarkin says the Galactic Empire has a million
systems in the ANH
novelisation, and one may presume these are all inhabited, though this is
not certain. In any case, at least several thousand solar systems are
populated, since that is the number Dooku had under his thumb in Attack of
the Clones, with another ten thousand ready to join him. It is not known
what percentage of the Republic member worlds these systems represented, but Palpatine
referred to the idea as the Republic being "split in two". This
could refer to a numerical division of half-and-half, or may only
represent a more general concept such as economics or population.|
If we assume ~20,000 systems under the Separatists and a million worlds, though, we're only looking at 2% of the Republic in rebellion . . . that would be like losing one of the fifty states in the United States. Even if you picked the largest, most populous, or most prosperous of the 3,042 counties in the U.S., you still wouldn't realistically be able to say "split in two".
If it was a rough halving of the Republic, we could guess that the total number of full-membership Republic worlds was on the order of fifty thousand, perhaps one hundred thousand, depending on how one wishes to define "several". The other 900,000 systems could either be uninhabited territorial holdings, or colonies populated with some number of individuals.
However, eyeball estimates based on a rough count of visible Senatorial pods suggests that there was only room for between 1,000 to 1,500 planetary senators (that's 30 observed levels at 36 pods per level (they get further away from each other the higher you go) for a total of 1080, plus room given for unobserved levels).
Coruscant is the most highly developed world by far, a planet almost completely covered by development, except for the seas. (This is apparently a unique state for a world in that era, as explained in the novelisation of TPM, p. 207.)
This planet, and the unknown number of others, represents a vast infrastructure, no matter the technology level. This is shown by the ability to construct huge battlestations such as the two Death Stars.
Final Tally: 1,000,000 total systems
Member Tally: ~ 1,500 - 100,000 (rough estimate)
|Territory Size||The Federation spans at least 8000 light-years in 2371
Contact), according to Picard. Based on images of the Federation seen in
"Conspiracy"[TNG] and re-used in Keiko's classroom on DS9 (reproduced here),
is a roughly oval, apparently-contiguous arrangement of planets. If it is
8,000 light years in maximum width, the length (from the outer galaxy
toward the core) would be around 6,000 light years. Our galaxy's depth in
this region is only about 1,000 light years. A rectangular box of such
dimensions would thus have a volume of 48,000,000,000 cubic
light-years. (To get an idea of what our
region of the galaxy looks like, take a look at this
excellent page. Given the size of the Federation, there should be
at least 200,000,000 stars within it.)|
Bear in mind that this constitutes only a fraction of the stars charted by the Federation, though precisely what "charted" means is unclear. However, based on "The Corbomite Maneuver"[TOS], "The Doomsday Machine"[TOS], and "Transfigurations"[TNG], star-charting usually involves going into an area and gathering data while they pass through. However, it is entirely possible that they have traded for star charts from others, or "charted" via subspace telescope. This may explain why that boob Kosinski said 11% of the galaxy had been charted during TNG season one, whereas by the very next year Wesley used the figure of 19%.
Final Tally: 8,000 x ~6,000 light-years
|Given the million systems of the Empire, the size --
just a million stars, and in a galaxy like ours -- could be up
to about 2,000 light years (there are 250,000 stars within a 250 light-year
radius of Earth, and 300 million stars within 5,000ly). To have a million
potentially habitable systems, a likely minimum would be 12,000 light
years. But, given Qui-Gon's statement that "most" of the stars of
the SW galaxy have planetary systems, the "likely minimum" should actually be smaller. More information on this is available here.
Now, if Tarkin referred solely to populated systems, the figure is unknown.
The ANH novelisation states that the Empire is a "tiny portion" of the galaxy, and a "tiny fraction of this section of one modest-sized galaxy". Qui-Gon suggests in TPM that not all the stars have been visited. In the Local Group of 40 galaxies, even excluding anything below 10,000 light-years across, the average galaxy size of the remaining 13 is 36,500 light years (an estimate which holds for larger galaxies within 20 million light years). Even if we assume a 73,000 light year galaxy (36,500 x 2) with low stellar density, a tiny fraction of a section of such a galaxy would have to be rather small.
(Note: Some argue that the use of phrases like "halfway across the galaxy" in TPM, "outer rim" in several movies, and Han's comment that he'd been from one side of the galaxy to the other implies that the Empire probably controls a huge fraction of the galaxy. However, this is highly unlikely, given what is known of the galaxy (and Han). For instance, the planet Kamino was referred to as being "beyond the outer rim", but the map in the Jedi library clearly zoomed in to an area very close to the core, meaning that "outer rim" cannot refer to the outermost rings of the galaxy. It should be noted that I am not being unfair here . . . I apply similar reasoning to Pike's comment to the Talosians about being from "the other end of this galaxy", and Picard's comments in "Conspiracy" that the Enterprise had been on the outer rim.)
Star Wars non-canon figures are highly inflated, suggesting between 60% of the SW galaxy is in the Empire's grip, or that almost the entire thing is. They also give it a size of 120,000 light years, which, judging by our Local Group of galaxies, is hardly "modest-sized". They also ignore Qui-Gon's statement . . . for instance, the SW2ICS suggests that only the slightest fraction of stars have planetary systems, thereby inflating the size of the later Empire by a very large amount.
Final Tally: ~ 10,000 light-years diameter (rough est.)
|Population||Riker seemed surprised
by Data's statement that the T'kon Empire had a population numbering
in the trillions, so one might guess at a Federation population
of less than multiple trillions. Assuming a population of 5
billion per member world (Earth's current population), the Federation
would have a population of 750 billion, not including
associates, protectorates, or colonies.|
However, Deep Space Nine's "Statistical Probabilities" suggests that a protracted war with the Dominion could, by one estimate, result in 900 billion Federation casualties and a Federation defeat. In this projection, five generations after the defeat, a rebellion would start on Earth, and within another generation the Dominion would be conquered, and a new Federation would be born.
The projection suggests that in spite of the unthinkable casualties, some if not all Alpha Quadrant races would survive quite well, even to the point of conquering the entire Dominion. This would seem to suggest an absolute minimum Federation population of between one and two trillion . . . probably more.
Final Tally: ~ 2 trillion persons, rough minimum estimate
|Coruscant alone could
have a population of hundreds of billions quite easily, assuming
Earth-city population density over the entire globe. Some suggest
hundreds of trillions for Coruscant, but such figures fail to
account for the huge industrial areas, as well as large areas (such as the
one seen at the end of AoTC) which are evidently un- or lightly-populated, neglected ruins. In
any case, Coruscant is the most developed world by far, as per the novel, and
undoubtedly has what we 21st Century folk would consider a staggering
I would think it safe to assume a minimum Imperial population of at least several dozen trillion. If there were 5 billion people per Tarkin's "million systems", this would give a figure of 5,000,000,000,000,000 (five quadrillion), assuming those are all fully-populated member systems. If, on the other hand, there are only around 40,000 populated member systems (a rough figure estimating two times ten thousand plus "several thousand" from AoTC) with 5 billion persons per planet, the figure drops to 200 trillion. If we count only the number of Galactic Senate seats as the count of actual member worlds, then using 1,500 seats times 5 billion persons gives us a figure of 7.5 trillion. In any case, the Empire probably has, at ridiculous minimum, at least a dozen times the population of the Federation, and probably more like 500 times the Federation population.
Final Tally: ~ 200 trillion persons, rough minimum estimate
|Planetary defense systems are referred to (TMP, "Homefront"), but their nature is not delved into. Orbital defense outposts and drone ships (BoBW) are present in small numbers, though fleets also protect endangered planets ("Homefront" and "In the Pale Moonlight"). Planetary shields ("Whom Gods Destroy"[TOS]) are used on prison/asylum worlds, though their use on member worlds is unconfirmed. The shielded surface outpost in "Gambit"[TNG] may have had planetary shields, but this is uncertain. An attack on Earth during the Dominion War managed to cause only light damage to San Francisco, though a fleet assault on Betazed did capture that world. Alas, we simply do not know what technologies are common for planetary defense.||System defense forces are a known quantity. Planetary
theoretically possible, though theatre shields are all that have been
observed. We know from the ANH novel that Alderaan had some of the strongest defenses in the
Empire, but we do not know what this means.|
Pro-Wars debaters sometimes mix up canon and non-canon data, and assume that Alderaan had an active planetary shield. However, this is not the case.
|A minimum of 1000, based on dialog from Deep Space Nine,
numbered Fleets, the highest being the Tenth Fleet. At one point, the Tenth
Fleet numbered 112 ships. But, mere elements of the Second
and Fifth combined into a 600 ship fleet to retake DS9, suggesting that
some fleets had many more than 112 ships.|
"Tacking Into The Wind"[DS9] suggests that the Dominion War enemy forces (Dominion in the AQ, Cardassia, and the Breen) had 30,000 ships (the 1,500 available Klingon ships would be outnumbered 20 to 1). One would hope the Federation/Klingon/Romulan Alliance had at least enough to be within an order of magnitude. The 30,000 figure correlates well with reaction to the Dominion loss of 2,800+ ships in "Sacrifice of Angels"[DS9], which might've constituted a loss of as much as half the Dominion fleet in the Alpha Quadrant at that point. A fair estimate would be above 1000, but below 20,000.
Precisely how many of these are valid combat-capable starships is unclear. We know the Federation has a large number of Oberth class science ships and several emasculated Miranda class science/courier ships running around, but by far most of the starships we've seen (in or out of wartime) have been Excelsiors.
(Note: A popular opposition argument is that Federation Tac-Fighters are included in ship counts. I have no idea where this notion comes from . . . the claim is not supported, suggested, or implied in the canon.)
Final Tally: ~ 10,000 (est.)
|No canon estimates are
available. The closest thing we have to an estimate is Han's amazed
reaction to the destruction of Alderaan in the ANH novel, where he suggests
that the entire fleet couldn't have destroyed the planet, as it
would take a thousand ships massing more firepower than had ever existed to
perform such a feat. One might argue that he was going for the idea of a
huge fleet of ships with huge firepower, which would imply that the Imperial
combat-capable starfleet is around 1000 ships or less. However, this is
by no means certain.|
If Imperial ship count compared to member worlds is the same as for the Federation, there could be between forty thousand and a million ships, perhaps a few million! Further, an infrastructure that can build a Death Star should be able to field a hefty fleet. (Just counting volume, a 120 kilometer Death Star is the equivalent of over 1.7 million starships of one cubic kilometer.) On the other hand, they only had 27 starships at the Empire's most important tactical engagement (RoTJ), so there's a great deal of uncertainty in play. An important note is that, unlike the UFP, the Empire has no known external threat forces that would require huge fleets . . . their only threat is a rag-tag rebellion and memory of a civil war.
The Imperial starfleet has not been fleshed out in the slightest. The fleet is known to include Imperators and a smaller number of Executors, and presumably older ship classes such as the Acclamators. The latter of these is the smallest, at better than 700 meters.
A wide variety of smaller ship classes appear in the non-canon, but I'm leaving these out for consistency.
Final Tally: 1,000 - 1,000,000 (???)
|Matter/Antimatter Reactors, with fusion reactors for emergency power and impulse. Ship's power is distributed via plasma conduits, suggesting that energetic plasma powers most systems. A few systems, however -- most notably internal ship communications -- do use electronic circuitry at some point, as implied by Picard in "Symbiosis".||Though the non-canon Expanded Universe has graced us with such terms as "Solar Ionization" or "Hypermatter" reactors, the canon ANH novelisation puts the issue to rest when describing the Death Star's explosion: "Space filled temporarily with trillions of microscopic metal fragments, propelled past the retreating ships by the liberated energy of a small artificial sun." Strangely, the power of the Empire appears to be based on simple fusion. Even more strangely, their power distribution appears to be simple electricity via conductive wires, based on myriad references in the ANH novel, and Han's attempted "hot-wire" in RoTJ. This may also explain the use of ion cannons.|
|At least five million gigawatts pour through
a power conduit in "Revulsion"[VOY]. Data, in "True Q"[TNG], says the
Enterprise (while orbiting a planet, and not at alert status) is
"presently generating twelve-point-seven-five billion
gigawatts per . . . ", but is cut off. (If he were about to say "day",
that would work out to 147 terajoules per second. The script said
"second".) In any event, gigawatt-class reactor energies are certain.
Geordi comments in "The Masterpiece Society" that the reactor "kicks
plasma up into the terawatt range". More details can be found here.|
Final Tally: ~ 5,000 TJ / sec on a midsize vessel
|Star Destroyer reactor energies are unknown. However,
they are also based on simple fusion, then the reactor energies are going
to be small, even given the massively huge reactors you could fit into a
Star Destroyer . . . there would be the issue of fuel storage.|
The non-canon and Warsie speculation give us a 140m main reactor on an ISD, with a peak power generation in excess of 1e25 watts, or about ten trillion terajoules per second. However, this is nonsense, since to achieve that power level with a fusion reactor would require fusing almost 200,000,000 metric tons of deuterium in one second. If they stored it in the form of lithium deuteride at 12 times its normal density (much more and you'll risk fusion via compression), that fuel would fill a container of 1000m x 142m x 142m, most of the internal volume of a 1600 meter long Star Destroyer. That's for one second, and it would have to fuse all at once!
For argument's sake, let's have the ship fuse one metric ton of deuterium each second. That will give them 50,000 TJ/sec, but could only allow the ship a rough maximum of six years' duration before fuel exhaustion (assuming the "flying fuel tank" parameters mentioned above). If we instead assume that the ship isn't a flying fuel tank, but instead carries perhaps one one-thousandth that amount of fuel (200,000 metric tons (a 27.5m3 container of lithium deuteride at 12 times normal density)), the metric-ton-per-second idea now only gives them 55 hours of reactor power. If we borrow the 140 meter figure as a spherical tank (in lithium deuteride format), the ship will have a month of fuel at one metric ton per second. This would be extended to ten months if the ship only 'burned' a tenth of a metric ton per second. This gives them a fat tank, and power levels equal to the Intrepid Class starships of the Federation, at 5,000 TJ/sec . . . though without the duration. In reality, though, such a system would require multiple smaller reactors. Again, though, this is only one estimate . . . as stated, Star Destroyer reactor energies are unknown.
Final Tally: On an ISD, less than or equal to Federation midsize reactors.
|Shields||Graviton based, as per Geordi's screen
in Generations, and capable of deflecting/absorbing electromagnetic and
subspace energies. They possess frequency windows allowing sensors to
peek through, but there is apparently no easy way to determine
another ship's shield frequency. Starship shields can be brought down
remotely by another starship, provided you have the prefix code and that it
hasn't been changed.
(Rough dissipation limits will be added soon.)
|Composition is unknown. There seems to be a peculiar
shielding technique used, however, since portions of the Death Star were
ray-shielded, but not shielded against projectiles. Given the
bridge-tower destruction in TESB (the novel suggest the entire ship was
destroyed), Anakin's flight into the cargo bay in TPM, the Millennium Falcon attaching itself to the bridge tower, and the apparent necessity of
shooting the various little rocks floating about in the TESB asteroid
field, one could make a defensible argument that the "particle shield"
complement to ray shields does not exist, but for the weak
magnetic deflectors observed and flown through when fighters approached
the Death Star in ANH. On the other hand, fighters were said to have
collided against DS2's shield, and Anakin's Naboo fighter seemed to score
knock-downs of droids with its shield, so it's hazy.
(Rough dissipation limits will be added soon.)
|Armor||Federation ships use comparatively thin but tough
duranium armor, augmented by structural integrity fields. With sufficient
energy input, the SIF can act as a shield ("The Chase"[TNG]).
This allows the ship to survive collision events
(ST:Nem), though collisions in sensitive spots, like the
neighborhood of the warp core and antimatter pods, can lead to
catastrophic destruction ("The
According to the script of "Descent, Pt. II"[TNG], the outer hull of a Galaxy class starship can withstand 12,000 degrees Celsius and 10,000 rads of absorbed radiation without even starting to glow, or even seem to pose a direct danger to the crew aboard at that moment. According to this section of Carey Sublette's excellent Nuclear Weapons FAQ, a rad is equivalent to 0.01 J/kg, so the ship ought to have been absorbing 100 joules per kilogram of hull material, over and above the direct heating from the sun. However, I've not checked the episode as filmed to confirm.
|There is no canon data on armor composition. Whatever it
apparently isn't very helpful, since a hit by an asteroid
in TESB sheared off a Star
Destroyer's bridge tower and destroyed the ship. A temple in the ANH
novelisation was described thusly: "Theoretically, no weapon could
penetrate the exceptionally dense stone of the ancient temple"(178).
Assuming a natural stone of normal elements, it would have to be something
along the lines of the mineral iridosmine, an Iridium-osmium alloy of
supreme hardness and extreme density, in the range of 20,000 kg/m^3, or
almost three times iron. Given that SW weapons obviously destroy SW
craft with remarkable ease, one would assume a far less dense
The non-canon makes use of the term "neutronium", suggesting that it is the same ultra-dense compressed neutron material found within neutron stars. However, this is completely untrue.
|Phasers are quite powerful beam weapons, with
levels *at least* in the high-gigawatt/low-terawatt range ("A Matter of
Time"[TNG], Data tells Geordi they must avoid a variance above .06
terawatts), though that shot apparently involved maximum power
from the ship.|
Against the sentry pods in "Conundrum", the Enterprise phaser arrays were used in a peculiar fashion. Normally, we can see the array energize at both endpoints and a beam erupt where the energy meets, but in this case the array energized and a large number of smaller beams were used. This suggests that phaser arrays may be commonly used in such a manner in the event of numerous small weak targets.
Circa 2151, starship weaponry was rated for 500 gigajoules per cannon (one terajoule per dual-cannon shot), though this could be increased to 5 terajoules per cannon at extreme risk (damage to power relays and the weapons themselves). It is logical to assume that significant advancements were made in the following 200 years.
Final Tally: Terawatt-range, minimum
(And given 100-megaton torpedoes, and the general gist from battle scenes that photon torpedos are 2-5 times more powerful than phasers, 1-10 megaton phasers (~ 4,000 - 40,000 TJ) wouldn't be too difficult to argue for.)
|Turbolasers seem to be the primary beam weapon, though
ion cannons exist and may be deployed on some vessels. Some
claim thousands of terajoules for these weapons, and the non-canon ICS
claims almost a *billion* terajoules, but none of these figures have canon
support. So far, the only time we've gotten a good show of turbolaser
firepower against targets we can make a guess about is TESB, during the asteroid
scene, where weapons energies seem to be in the gigajoule range, and
something similar is seen at Geonosis,
where low-gigajoule energies are the rough minimum.
There are several sizes of beam weapon
emplacement on Imperial vessels, ranging from the heavy guns on the port and
starboard dorsal, to various other weapons all over the ship.
However, in the one instance the heavy guns have been seen to fire they missed
a relatively stationary target, so we can only guess at their firepower,
assuming they could bring it to bear.
Final Tally: Gigawatt-range, minimum.
|Photon and the new Quantum Torpedoes are in use aboard
Federation starships, with photon torpedoes being the most common by far.
Photon torpedoes are projectiles capable of being fired at FTL or STL
speeds at any target. Both torpedo types appear to be independently shielded,
and can be used at warp to fire on sublight targets. The yield is
variable, from something in cannonball range (Star Trek V), to something
in the 100-150 megaton range ("Rise"[VOY]),
many hundreds of megatons (detonation fireball very visible from planet's
surface in "Skin of Evil"[TNG]).|
Final Tally: ~ 100 megatons (418,000 TJ), average
|Concussion Missiles and Proton Torpedoes, both of which
used. These weapons seem
to be more of a surgical strike weapon, whereas Imperial beam weapons are
their version of blunt-force. Capital ship missile weapons have not been
observed, though fighters have been seen to use them in ANH and TPM, but
in both cases direct hits against the hull of starships were
ineffective. (Proton torpedoes are also referred to as laser
torpedoes in the ANH script, which may suggest something about their
Some of the non-canon suggests tremendous firepower, while some suggests that proton torpedoes fling shrapnel. The idea that proton torpedoes produce shrapnel makes the weapons yield rather low, since high-yield weapons typically vaporize themselves. Some of the non-canon claims that proton torpedo explosions can be directed, though this is not seen in the canon.
Final Tally: ? . . . low-kilotons?
|Many (but not all) impulse battles occur at severely
ranges, but this may simply be the way to counter highly maneuverable ships
with weapons limited to lightspeed and below, since otherwise it will be
exclusively a battle with maneuverable torpedoes. With a limited
torpedo loadout, and the fact that torpedoes are dangerous to use at
extreme short range, it makes some sense to close to point-blank. We
have seen weapons used at impulse and at warp to have profound ranges ("The
Wounded"[TNG], "Return to Grace"[DS9], "The Search"[DS9], etc.), in the
area of 100,000-300,000 kilometers. However, weapons limited to
lightspeed would take a third of a second to cross a 100,000km distance,
so maneuverable Trek targets engaging in evasive maneuvers could evade
(especially given that phasers do not move at lightspeed, canonically). As
part of a ruse to get within transporter range, Riker suggested to Klag to *wait* to fire until he was within 40,000
kilometers, in order to reduce the opposing ship's response time
("A Matter of Honor"). "Elaan of Troyius"[TOS] shows the Klingons firing
at about 80,000 kilometers.|
At warp, torpedo ranges are at least 5 million kilometers ("Human Error"[VOY], with similar range shown in "Flashback"[VOY]). Phaser maximum range at warp is unknown.
Maximum Range: ~300,000 km (STL only), Effective Maximum Range: 10-10,000km (variable).
|All battles in
Star Wars occur at slower-than-light velocities, and weapons ranges are
perilously short. On smaller craft such as the Millennium Falcon, maximum
weapons range for a target which is almost stationary relative to the
Falcon is on the order of a couple of kilometers (200
meters, actually, but I'm being generous), which seems true for
fighters as well. Capital ships would seem to allow for bombardment of a
planet from orbit (100-500km) with unknown accuracy, but actual
ship-to-ship combat ranges, even for these slow moving vessels,
never seems to exceed a few kilometers. The longest observed starship weapons
range occurred when the Trade Federation blockade
ship in TPM started spraying fire from 60 kilometers, but the accuracy
was terrible, and didn't really improve even as the Queen's ship flew
over the hull. The point-blank affair seen in ROTJ (around a kilometer)
is unusually close, however. The Death Star destroyed Alderaan from
within six planetary diameters, which assuming Earth's diameter would be
just under 77,000 kilometers, the maximum seen from any SW weapon.|
Maximum Range: ~80,000km, Effective Maximum Range: ~10-500km
|Warp drive, using some sort of "continuum distortion"
via subspace fields, allows the vessel to achieve speeds of
several thousand times that of light in realspace. Verbal references suggest that the
ships of the Federation are capable of traveling up to about 1 light-year
per hour (Galaxy maximum of 9000c as per "Where No One Has Gone
Before"[TNG], slightly better than the speed of the Kelvan-enhanced
Enterprise in TOS).
Newer ships such as the Intrepid have higher maximum speeds. For example,
In "The 37's"[VOY], Paris says warp 9.9 is 4,000,000,000 miles per second,
or 21,400c (2.45 ly/hr). In "Encounter at Farpoint"[TNG], Data
reported that they could make warp 9.8 "at extreme risk", but the maximum
warp red line appears to be 9.2. "Maneuvers"[VOY] has Voyager traveling 2 billion
kilometers/second, or about 6700c, though no warp speed is given at the
time, to my knowledge. Note that the Intrepid Class is capable of a
sustainable cruise velocity of warp 9.975 ("Caretaker"[VOY]). On the other hand,
Zero" uses the 9000c figure from "WNOHGB" again, saying
that it took the ship two hours to travel two light-years. As for lower
warp speeds, we have "The Most Toys"[TNG], where the Jovis's warp
three speed calculates out to a mere 39c.|
These are not dead-firm figures, however. The Enterprise-Prime would take 11 hours to travel 990.7 light-years in "That Which Survives"[TOS], suggesting 90 ly/hr, or 788,400 times lightspeed. "Bread and Circuses"[TOS] has the Enterprise cross .2 light-years in about a minute, suggesting a speed of 107,000c. Then, of course, there's the Star Trek V incident, where a trip to the center of the Milky Way from Nimbus III (which could be no less than 17,000 light-years from the center, as per First Contact) took under seven hours. That suggests a speed of over 2500 ly/hr, over 20,000,000c! (Which, entertainingly, is just about what it would take for stars to float past a la TOS.)
Then there's the opposite side of the coin. "Fight or Flight"[ENT] gives us a value for warp 4.4 of 30,000,000 km/sec, or almost exactly 100c, though the rest of the series contradicts this value (and we don't know what warp scale they're talking about . . . the TOS scale which allowed for warp 11 and 14.1, or the TNG scale that maxes out at warp 10). In "Bloodlines"[TNG] Riker calculated in his head the time required for the Enterprise to travel 300 billion kilometers at Warp 9, and gets about 20 minutes, which would be about 900c, or .1ly/hr. In "Caretaker"[VOY], Janeway said that at "maximum speeds", it would take 70 years to make the 75,000 light year journey, which works out to only .12 light years per hour, or just over 900c. That contradicts other maximum Voyager values . . . perhaps she was including stops, or calculating with a warp six velocity.
The common theory used by fans to reconcile all the variable speed figures is the idea of "warp highways", areas of space where warp drive works especially well. These are often thought of as roughly linear phenomena, but could also simply be large patches of space. However, there is nothing in the canon which makes any reference to this concept. Taking all the data, it would seem that older Federation ships are limited to the 10,000c range (about 1.1 ly/hr), with newer ships limited to the 21,400c range (about 2.45 ly/hr). Cruising speeds are probably closer to 1,000c. But, I'll have to go with the Tech Manual on this one and say that your mileage may vary.
Final Tally: ~ 21,000c (fast ship), ~ 9,000c (slower ship max), ~1,000c (common velocity)
uses some sort of extra-dimensional space-folding technology, since Han
comments that his ship is only capable of ".5 past lightspeed".
1.5c would be insanely slow. (The novelisation has him saying "point five
factors beyond lightspeed.") Notice that he also refers to
making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, which is a distance, not a time or
speed. (It should be noted, however, that the script has the following to
say about that line: "Ben reacts to Solo's stupid attempt to impress them
with obvious misinformation.")|
With a million worlds in the Empire, and billions of suns in your average galaxy, this suggests effective hyperdrive speeds at least on the order of warp drive.
Actual hyperdrive speed estimates from the canon are difficult. The entire Star Wars canon saga has so far only covered a dozen planets, and we know some of these are rather close together. For instance, Tatooine to Geonosis is less than a parsec in AoTC, and TPM establishes that Tatooine is much closer to Naboo than Coruscant, and can be reached with a "leaking" hyperdrive. The impression given in AoTC is that the "less than a parsec" trip between Tatooine and Geonosis took at least several hours (judging by the fact that a senatorial vote had to take place, among other things). Yoda made the trip from Coruscant to the cloner's world Kamino to Geonosis fairly rapidly in AoTC, suggesting that Kamino was relatively "on the way".
But, the trip from Coruscant to Naboo in AoTC was shown as a realspace or low-hyperdrive affair, since the refugee transport was shown in realspace in the middle of the trip. Without firmer figures on the size and distances of the Empire, it is a real pain to figure out speeds. (Note: Some argue that the use of the phrase "halfway across the galaxy" in AoTC implies huge speeds. However, the evidence points to lesser speeds. This is not anti-Star Wars thinking . . . I attribute Captain Pike's comment about Earth being "at the other end" of the galaxy from Talos to be similarly full of hyperbole.)
The non-canon gives us wildly variable figures, from about 2.4 light-years per hour (21,000c) ("Heir to the Empire") to 127 light-years per hour (just over 1,100,000c) ("Dark Force Rising"). The "Behind the Magic" CD-ROM suggests speeds variable based on local conditions, from 600,000 to 50,000,000c (Milky Way to Andromeda in 19 days). However, there is nothing in the canon to support these figures. (Entertainingly, though, some Warsies claim that there is canon evidence for such speeds, and they base this off of non-canon maps and charts using incorrect galaxy data. Again, evidence that some like to blur the lines, since there is no canon chart saying "Coruscant is X light-years from Naboo". Further, the BTMCD information was contradicted in Attack of the Clones.) (Assuming that the AoTC Tat-Geo trip was 3 light-years and took a mere three hours, the speed of Amidala's ship would be 1 ly/hr, or ~ 9,000c. If six hours, the speed would be ~ 4,400c. I would put the trip at a maximum of 12 hours, give or take, which would work out to slightly more than 2,000c. Assuming a rough average of six hours, and assuming that the Falcon is both twice as fast, and the fastest ship in the galaxy, then the Empire would be limited to about 10,000c.)
Final Tally: ?? Equal to high warp ??
|Impulse engines are used, and ships seem to use an artificial mass reduction effect (AMRE) to conserve fuel and enhance acceleration. This renders impulse "not-quite-Newtonian". This also explains the apparent use of "one-quarter impulse", "half-impulse", and such as speed estimates, and not acceleration. You could, for example, fire a brief thrust, then turn on AMRE and suddenly start zipping along when your mass lightens. Federation ships have incredible advantages over Imperial ships in acceleration, as observed in TMP (half lightspeed in no time flat), "Peak Performance"[TNG] (the E-D zipping around a planet in no time flat), "The Swarm"[VOY] (calcs suggest 4000km/s^2), and so on. Federation starships could run circles around their Imperial counterparts. (That is a scene from "Emissary"[DS9], showing a remarkably fast high-speed, 120-degree-minimum turn by two of the most massive ship classes. Imperial ships wouldn't stand a chance in maneuverability.)||Similar to Impulse, but involving big
honkin' thrusters on the back on every observed ship type except for TIE
fighters, which have two smaller thrusters, though those could simply be
nozzles of a thrust-vector system. These huge engines, and comparatively
small observed speeds, suggest a less-advanced, possibly Newtonian,
approach, though some SW ships are quite maneuverable, given their
bulk (Home One turn in ROTJ). However, that
might have involved use of repulsorlift tech (see below),
given how close they were to the planet. In open space, Star Destroyers
are referred to as sluggish and slow to respond in the TESB novel,
incapable of avoiding a very damaging collision in TESB. |
Warsies claim that a screen in ROTJ showed the Imperial Fleet making a maneuver that would have involved acceleration of 30 km/s^2. However, it is not stated that the screen shows the Imperial fleet, and the scale of the screen is suspect. Further, the script has Leia reacting as if its the Rebel fleet approaching through hyperspace. In neither the film nor script is Leia shocked as if she's seeing an Imperial fleet's trap.
|Use observed on shuttles in Star Trek V (and presumably all other shuttles), and in a variety of smaller applications throughout Trek. Flying vehicles akin to those in AoTC were observed in "Shockwave"[ENT], and of course the shuttepods also seem to use antigravity, but the precise nature of their technology is uncertain.||Antigravity "repulsorlift" technologies are used within six planetary diameters, even by larger ships (ANH novel, 115-117). Many larger vessels can and do land, a necessary evil without transporters. However, ships such as the "galactic cruiser" (aka Corellian Corvette) seen in the beginning of ANH cannot enter atmosphere without a "stabilizer fin" (ANH novel, ch. 1). How antigravs work is unknown, but it does have to have a decent gravity field to push against, according to canon sources.|
|Sensors||Barring interference (natural or artificial), even Starfleet ships of the 2150's could read the DNA of the crew of opposing ships ("Silent Enemy"[ENT]). By the 2360's, scanning a foreign probe or ship could allow a determination of where it has been ("Bloodlines"[TNG], "Chain of Command"[TNG]), and sensors of the 2370's (if not before) had enough resolution to transport someone when the beaming ship was passing by at at least lightspeed ("Maneuvers"[VOY]). Sensors can record the position and trajectory of individual particles of interstellar hydrogen and space dust ("The Battle"[TNG], ST:FC), and note disturbances in that. The primary weakness of Federation sensors seems to be that crew isn't always looking for a particular something, and therefore does not see it ("The Hunted"[TNG]). Given the massive amounts of information sensors provide, this does point to a weakness, though sensor logs seem to make this information available for later analysis, assuming it isn't too late. Sensitive border regions have numerous sensor buoys ("Preemptive Strike"[TNG]).||Cannot track ships accurately at FTL speeds (ANH Novel). Dedicated communications ships can jam most SW sensors (ROTJ novel, 191-193), and the Death Star used some sort of distortion field that confused the instrumentation of nearby Rebel *and* Imperial ships, causing people to have to look around to see who was shooting them (ANH novel, 174). (This may have been the magnetic field the fighters flew into.) Imperial vessels have difficulty tracking movements up or down (i.e. perpendicular to their flight path) (ROTJ novel 191-193). Cloaking devices are mentioned in the movies, though whether it is an invisibility screen or simply a sensor jammer is uncertain. There is no evidence for FTL realspace sensor systems, meaning that if a Star Destroyer is sitting in space, it apparently would not be able to see anything coming in at lightspeed or warp speed until it was already there. This would presumably make Star Wars vessels highly vulnerable to warp strafing.|
War saw extensive use of small (~30 meter)
Peregrine Class "tac-fighters", armed with shields, phasers, and small
torpedoes. Though these are commonly referred to as fighters, they
seem to be more along the lines of somewhat less heavily-armed PT
boats (i.e. the WW2 small, fast, ~24m wooden boats with four heavy
torpedoes aboard, any one of which could take down or severely damage
a battleship). Such ships had existed for some time
prior, given their use by Maquis forces. (Peregrine Class ships should not
be confused with Maquis "Raiders", like Chakotay's ("Caretaker"[VOY]), or
the smaller version used by Ro in "Pre-emptive Strike"[TNG].) Their use is
controversial, given the low survivability against Cardassian capital ships.
However, they were able to dish out moderate punishment, even on
Galor Class Cardassian vessels. Firepower estimates are going to be
questionable, since we've never seen them fire against a target we know
Runabouts are not commonly used in the fighter role, though this is not unheard of ("The Jem'Hadar"[DS9]). Runabouts are remarkably tough little ships. They have strong shields (successfully withstanding several hits from a Jem'Hadar attack fighter in "Treachery..."[DS9]), and very good phaser coverage. At least some have torpedoes ("Past Prologue"[DS9]).
Shuttles have never been observed in the fighter role, though most seem to be armed and lightly shielded. Firepower figures for shuttles are not known, but "Detained"[ENT] shows us a shuttlepod with weapons at least in the ~50 megajoule range against what are presumed to be simple concrete walls, so anything less is quite unlikely.
|The Empire uses a variety of small (~6m) TIE fighters and TIE bombers. Most TIE vessels are unshielded, and the most common TIE fighters have two small weapons on the central sphere. A direct hit from this weapon can severely damage an R2 unit, or cause an explosion of an X-Wing's engines (ANH). The ability of these craft to operate in atmosphere is unclear, since this has not been observed. Assuming that TIEs are capable of acceleration similar to X-Wings, the largest-result acceleration calculations from mixed canon and non-canon data would be 130 km/s^2. However, that figure not only uses non-canon data, but also ignores the canon repulsorlift technology and its effects.|
|The transporter definitely comes to mind. After 200
years of use and
development, beaming is quite commonplace. Maximum transporter range is
about 40,000 kilometers, as per "A Matter of Honor".
Transporters have spawned spin-off
technologies such as the replicator. Industrial replicators can do
wonderful, wonderful things for an infrastructure. Indeed, the number
of man-hours a replicator would save cannot be overemphasized.|
One could say that a spin-off of the replicator was seen in Rom's self-replicating mine design.
Stars I and II, with the second one capable of firing smaller bursts at
individual ships. I rate these as "common", even though they can't be
built too quickly, requiring "many long years of secretive
construction"(ANH novel, 31), or at least three years of less secretive
construction. The firepower of the Death Star
is not known quantitatively, but qualitative estimates of Alderaan's
destruction were made by Han in the
ANH novel: "No...the entire Imperial fleet couldn't have done this. It
would take a thousand ships massing a lot more firepower than has ever
People commonly use as a basis of calculation the gravitational binding energy of an Earth-like world (1e32J) and the energy that would be required to get planetary debris moving as observed (for a grand total of 1e38J). However, the "ring effect" of the planet and Death Star explosions indicate that the Death Star superlaser is not simply a direct-energy-input weapon, but achieves its goal through some peculiar energy technique or physics effect that is not known. This is confirmed by the way the Death Stars both exploded . . . their main weapon charged, the explosions also exhibited the ring effect (seen nowhere else). More on this here.
has a large amount of experience with massive fleet engagements (DS9),
bringing into play an amalgam of tactical and strategic concepts from
air, sea, and land. Weaknesses are calculated (Riker and the Tholian
blind spot, Riker in "Best of Both Worlds"), and exploited (ST2, "BoBW",
Cardassian weapons range in "The
Wounded", Hathaway vs. Enterprise-D in "Peak Performance", Defiant taking
position on a Bird-of-Prey's underdefended rear in "Way of the Warrior").
With the transporter, ships can be boarded when their shields are down or
unable to prevent beaming,
allowing opportunities for capture or mayhem ("WotW", "Return to Grace",
"BoBW"). Transporters are also useful for weapons
delivery ("Dark Frontier"[VOY]).|
As a last resort, ramming is not unheard of ("BoBW", "Caretaker"[VOY], ST:FC, ST:Nem).
Fleet encounters usually end up as close-range affairs, either to preclude the use of torpedoes (known to be unsafe if fired at extremely close range), or to preclude the use of fleet fire concentration on individual ships.
Warp strafing of sublight targets has also been observed ("Elaan of Troyius"[TOS], "The Ultimate Computer"[TOS]), monopolizing on an impressive speed advantage in realspace.
|Fleet engagements are a virtual unknown in the Empire,
which has not
been seen to mass a fleet of more than 27 ships in a single engagement
(ROTJ). The Emperor's Fleet (TESB novel) consists of merely the six
ships at Hoth, with fighters, and is considered a "great space
The Empire fields two classes of capital ship, the common Imperator Class Star Destroyer (in two observed variants), and the far larger "super Star Destroyer", Executor Class. Fleet formations seem to involve a roughly spherical distribution of lesser ships around the command ship. Given the Imperial dependence on fighters and fighter harassment of capital ships, this makes a great deal of sense, since it would help shield the command ship against fighter attack.
Maneuvering tactics are almost non-existent, in part due to the bulk, sluggishness, and relative slowness of the ships. Ramming is referred to in the RoTJ novel as the last-ditch maneuver of a burning starship, and reference is made to the use of abandoned cargo ships loaded with charge, set on collision courses. However, given the fragility of Imperial ships (as per the Executor crash, etc.), ramming could only be a suicide tactic.
|From what we've seen, ground combat is not
favored as much as air/space superiority. The Federation seems to have
no tanks or armored personnel carriers (besides when shuttles are used in
that role, as per ST5), though "hopper" troop transport
and landing craft were mentioned in Deep Space Nine. Ground combat
use of hand phasers, phaser rifles, and powerful photon grenades, with
launchers("Arena"[TOS]), though a surprisingly wide variety of hand
weapons are in the arsenal of Federation ships (First Contact). Stun
grenades and remotely detonated
charges were used in the 2150's, and the latter have also been seen on Voyager.|
Nemesis is supposed to show us the first observed Starfleet land vehicle, a glorified dune buggy with a phaser mounted on it. Shuttles are more commonly used for ground support, as seen in "Detained"[ENT].
|The Empire has a great deal of dedicated ground war equipment, from the huge 20 meter tall All-Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) walkers to smaller AT-ST (and perhaps older AT-TE) walkers, with landing craft that can deploy them. Use of air support seems lacking in the time of the Empire despite the existence of TIE bombers, though the Republic did use vehicles similar to Hind attack helicopters in Attack of the Clones. AT-ATs are large, slow targets, only capable of 60 km/hr according to some sources (a few km/hr slower than a modern tank), and how they disembark whatever they are transporting is a mystery. Ground equipment seems to be armored, but is not shielded.|
|Medical technology and
knowledge seem to be far more advanced in the Federation. Compare the
ability to repair almost any non-lethal wound to the use of
artificial limbs, peculiar medical watertanks filled with bacta, and Darth Vader's suit in
Star Wars. Granted, they are advanced artificial limbs, but
artificial limbs all the same.|
Holodecks, exceptionally useful for training, could also be very useful for interrogation purposes.
Starfleet ships are capable of precision attacks to disable enemy ship systems ("Shockwave"[ENT], "The Defector"[TNG], "The Wounded"[TNG], etc.), whereas the Empire seems capable of just firing and hoping for the best (ANH).
Starship Flexibility: With rare exceptions, we seldom see a single-role starship. We've seen dedicated transports and science vessels, but even Federation warships such as the Defiant are capable of performing scientific duties.
|The Force and lightsabres. It is difficult to ascertain
the effect the Force
might have, but there *are* only two Sith at a time, and their powers
obviously didn't allow them to prevent the formation and continuation of
the Rebellion before Luke's arrival. Similarly, there are presumably only
two lightsabres in the Imperial arsenal, but if these were made more
common, they would be profoundly effective in melee situations. Mere
bat'leths would pale in comparison.|
Droids may also present quite an advantage, though apparently few are as sentient, intelligent, and resourceful as C-3P0 and R2-D2. On the other hand, most people in the Republic thought droids couldn't think at all (Dex and Obi-Wan, AoTC). And, actually, given that droids are subject to electronic hallucinations (ANH novelisation, p. 9), perhaps droids ought to be left out.
In hand-to-hand combat, one would assume that the Stormtrooper armor would provide some assistance, even though it is apparently not sturdy enough to ward off simple spears (ROTJ), and has been seen to crack with limited damage.
A wide variety of weapons emplacements give the vessels of the Empire very good coverage, though the heaviest and most visible Star Destroyer weapon emplacements are limited to the dorsal firing arcs.
Hyperdrives are carried internally, whereas the Federation ships require large external nacelles. This should make them harder to damage, at least on larger ships.
|In a situation where transporters are useless, Federation
rely on a comparatively small number of auxiliary craft. However, these
craft are better protected than their Imperial counterparts, and larger
vessels such as a Galaxy Class carry Runabouts, surprisingly tough
little craft (or, technically, ships). Though shuttlepods (such as the
ones from Enterprise and the little boxy ones from TNG) are not
warp capable, shuttlecraft are. Voyager's Type 9 (speedboat)
shuttlecraft have a range of at least 6.7 light-years, as per
Federation warp engines make large targets. Really huge. Downright massive.
Due to the lack of transporters, Imperial antigrav technology seems to have a definite edge. Therefore, large Imperial vessels could engage in maneuvers within planetary atmospheres that only ships such as Starfleet's Intrepid and Nova classes could hope to match.
The Federation has a ridiculous number of ship classes (based on all the weird kitbashes used in some of the fleet shots and in the Wolf 359 wreckage scenes), though these oddballs seem to be rare compared to Excelsiors, Mirandas, Akiras, and so on. Nevertheless, this would almost certainly wreak havoc in regards to starbases keeping parts in stock, or repairing various ships.
|One would think that the larger ships must have a
horrible response time to emergency conditions. Not only
does the Empire still use gunnery crews on the ship's periphery (not used
in Trek since TOS in
favor of direct weapons control from the bridge), presumably due to
unreliability of computer targeting (ANH novel p. 285), but ships of such
colossal size would make "Imperial Rapid Response" an oxymoron.|
The large bridge windows of Star Destroyers are referred to in the TESB novel as a severely weak point, compared to the hull . . . this was proved by the A-Wing that destroyed the Executor's bridge (and shortly thereafter the Executor) in ROTJ.
Those huge sublight engines make huge targets. Really huge. Downright massive.
A few general observations:
1. It is often suggested that Federation transporters would have no trouble with Imperial shields. Actually, the record of Starfleet vessels beaming through unknown shielding is more of a hit-or-miss affair. The Enterprise-D beamed effortlessly through Borg shields, until they adapted. They were also able to find a way to beam through the planetary shields of planet Aldea, which is rather impressive given the technology level of the Aldeans. On the other hand, Gomtuu's shields were impenetrable. One basic issue involved is that in most situations involving unfamiliar shielding, transporting through them is often not discussed, especially in tactical situations.
2. "Statistical Probabilities"[DS9] was referring to Federation casualties only, though this was not explicit in the conversation between Bashir and Sisko. However, when Jack and Lauren are discussing handing over Starfleet's battle strategy to the Dominion (thereby trying to make the conflict end in weeks, and thereby be less bloody), they explicitly refer to 'only' 2 billion Federation casualties, as opposed to 900 billion.