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Strategy, Tactics and Special Manoeuvres (Starfighter)
The most important part of the attack stage of starfighter combat is the angle of attack at which one craft will try to shoot another one down. Pilots are trained to know that the easiest way to shoot down an enemy fighter or other type of craft is to manoeuvre their vessel into a position directly behind the rear end of their target, engaging it with their primary weapons, either lasers, ion cannons or disposable ordinance. However, as the enemy starfighter in question will likely be engaging in maneuvering of its own, this is not always possible. Deflection shooting, which is in essence leading fire at an angle into a target as it turns in front of a ship's weapons, presenting one's opponent with a wall of destructive fire through which to fly, is an essential skill within the arsenal of veteran fighter pilots.
The most dangerous angle of attack is when two ships confront each other in a head-to-head pass, when two ships run at each other on directly converging courses. At this angle, the rate of closure is at its highest, with ranges decreasing extremely fast, giving each combatant time for only a few shots before overshoot, the point when both ships pass each other occurs.
A roll-off-the-top, is a basic starfighter manoeuvre and a classic defensive tactic used in order to shake off a pursuing enemy craft or to disengage from combat. Essentially, the manoeuvre comprises an ascending half-loop followed by a half-roll, resulting in level flight in the exact opposite direction at a higher position.
To successfully execute the manoeuvre, the pilot accelerates to sufficient speed to perform a loop in the starfighter. The pilot then pulls the starfighter into a climb, and continues to pull back on the controls as the ship climbs. As the starfighter passes over the point at which the climb was commenced, it should be inverted and a half loop will have been executed. At the top of the loop the pilot then executes a half-roll to regain normal, upright orientation to his target. As a result, the starfighter is now higher than his opponent and has changed course 180 degrees. A skilled bomber pilot may even use this manoeuvre to bomb a pursuing enemy craft.
Jinking, also known as "jinking and juking", is a defensive maneuver or series of maneuvers that is used in an attempt to spoil the aim of an attacking starfighter that has been able to manoeuvre itself into an excellent tactical position. Consisting of random slips, turns, dives and waggles, it is used in an attempt to avoid giving the enemy a solid targeting lock. Though the pilot of the attacking ship retains advantageous position, the longer he is forced to concentrate on achieving a shooting solution, the less aware he becomes of the situation around him. This lack of situational awareness while focusing on a single enemy is sometimes known as 'target fixation'; the danger of this is that it leaves a pilot vulnerable to counterattack from other starfighters.
The Corkscrew Avoid
Is a spiral or corkscrew manoeuvre used by starfighter pilots to evade enemy fire while maintaining a particular heading.
Reverse Throttle Hop
Essentially an exaggerated jumping turn, the Reverse Throttle Hop allows an attacking starfighter pilot to retain his or her advantage over a targeted enemy craft as it attempts a sudden breaking maneuver. To execute, the attacking pilot will pull up from his opponent and ease off on the throttle, bringing his fighter back onto his opponent's tail as the defender completing the breaking turn. However, in order to be utilized effectively, the tactic requires a good sense of initiative and excellent timing, as the consequences of a failed attempt could force the attacking fighter into an overshoot.
Force Multiple Orbit
Is Imperial Navy flight manoeuvre that is used to trap and engage vessels who can not produce valid identification. Nicknamed the "Atom" the basics of the tactic utilizes a unit of Imperial fighters flying around the target vessel in crisscrossing orbits at staggered distances. The manoeuvre is compared to the theory of how electrons orbited the nucleus of an atom, hence its nickname.
Described as "the oldest, simplest, and most effective trick in the book", the manoeuvre involves a pair of starfighters being attacked from behind by an enemy craft. Both defending ships execute a sharp break and, if the attacking fighter chooses to follow the manoeuvre, he will be trapped between the two defenders. The best defence is for the attacking fighter to feint, pretending to go after the leader; as the wingman slots in to take a shot, the attacker, who has now become the defender, could either perform a Roll or a Reverse Throttle Hop.
A classic defensive tactic used in order to shake off a pursuing enemy craft, but with great risks. Once detecting an enemy starfighter bearing down, a sharp turn can be taken in the direction of the incoming attack run. This would cause the enemy fighter to overshoot, and putting them in a position for a follow-through. The danger of this tactic is putting oneself in the sights of a wingman, the enemy achieving a snapshot (a quick passing shot), or breaking too soon or too late, resulting in a greater risk of being shot down.
A shot taken in haste at an enemy craft as it passed before starfighter’s weapons. It is rare to make such a shot, but it can spook a rookie pilot into making a mistake. Some pilots are skilled at making such shots, greatly improving their hit ratio.
Slip-jaws consists of two fighters crossing into each other's paths, almost but not quite crashing into each other, while unfortunate pursuers smash into one another. The manoeuvre is possible only for droid pilots or those aided by the Force, as it required an extraordinary level of precision. Slip-jaws is named after the scissor-like mandibles of a Kashyyyk slash-spider.
This hard to execute maneuver can be preformed when an attacking starfighter pilot becomes aware of possibly overshooting a breaking target. It requires the pilot to level out, pull up hard, roll away from the direction of the turn, then slide in behind the target; effectively altering the angle of approach without losing distance or speed. The Tallon Roll is difficult to counter, taking place in the starfighter pilot’s blind spot, but also difficult to achieve without becoming disoriented and overshooting, making yourself a target.
Simple, but takes a great amount of skill, precision, and concentration to execute. This tactic allows two starfighters to inflict a substantial amount of damage on an unprepared capital ship. Two starfighters fly extremely close to one another as they approached a capital ship. The larger ship’s targeting computer will detect the two fighters as a single ship. At dangerously close range, the ships split. One fighter continues on a strafing run of the capital ship, while the second one, draws fire from the first. The starfighter that isn't detected out of the two has an estimated five seconds before it is identified as a second ship. Five seconds of an attack run will cause serious damage to the larger ship, without its defenses endangering the pilot.
The Feint and Backstab
The tactic consists of two flights of starfighters closing with the enemy; one will make a direct run at a formation of the enemy starfighters while the other hangs back, staying out of sensor range while still closing with the enemy. The initial pair of fighters will close on a vector head-on to the enemy craft, but just before reaching effective combat range they will execute a hard bank. Ideally this will draw the incoming enemy pilots into a pursuit manoeuvre going after the first flight, whereupon the second flight of attacking ships would then pounce on the confused enemy and destroy them.