The Eta-2 Actis-class Light Interceptor, also called the Actis-class Interceptor, the Eta-2, or sometimes referred to as the Jedi Interceptor due to its popularity with Jedi pilots, was a Galactic Republic starfighter used late in the Clone Wars that shared design elements of the Delta-7 Aethersprite and the TIE Line Fighter of the later Galactic Empire.
It became one of the premier starfighters of the Clone Wars and was part of standard fighter complement of the Venator Mark I Star Destroyers. The Eta-2 would continue its service with the rise of the Empire, becoming one of the first starfighters in use by the Imperial Navy, before it was largely phased out by the TIE Fighter.
The starfighter’s popularity is such that it still finds limited use in the Empire, as well as a much larger niche in many smaller navies across the galaxy. Although Kuat Systems Engineering initially sold the designs of the fighter to Sienar Fleet Systems, which helped Sienar develop its successful TIE Series, the company reacquired the rights to the Eta-2 and is now producing shielded models in cooperation with Hoersch-Kessel Drive.
At 5.47 meters in length, the Eta-2 is significantly shorter than its already diminutive predecessor, the Delta-7. The new fighter's mass was further reduced by removing much of the forward space-frame, leaving the front of the ship in a forked shape. Like the Delta-7, the Eta-2 is too small to hold an onboard hyperdrive. Because of this, the Eta-2 has to rely on carrier vessels or hyperspace transport rings for long-distance travel. However, the Actis does have room for a full astromech droid, instead of the truncated units that were fitted into the Aethersprite.
Like the simultaneously developed ARC-170 and V-wing Starfighters, the Eta-2 incorporates S-foils to radiate excess engine heat in the thick of combat, reducing the likelihood of damage to the craft. Occasionally, though not always, the lifting panels are opened during normal flight to further reduce stress on the engines. This design element would be carried on through the radiator panels of later TIE fighters, which, though unlike the Eta-2's foils were locked in static positions, served the same purpose.
Thanks mostly to the fact that its development occurred in the midst of a galactic civil war, the Eta-2 was designed with more firepower at its disposal than the Delta-7: two large laser cannons and two ion cannons. While the size of its guns provides it with respectable firepower, the fighter's limited power systems restrict its ability to fire continuously. Unlike the Delta-7, the original Eta-2 was not equipped with shields.
Eta-2s that were flown by the Jedi were stripped down for even faster performance. Heavy sensors and flight instruments were removed, since they were unnecessary for a pilot with precognitive Force abilities.
The Eta-2 Actis was designed by Kuat Systems Engineering, following up on its success with the Aethersprite. Although it included and improved upon many design elements of the latter, it was much smaller and more practical than its predecessor, allowing far more Eta-2 ships to fit into hangars that could only hold a handful of Delta-7 craft.
This concept led to much wider production and use in the Galactic Republic Navy than the Delta-7 had seen, since it had been designed exclusively for the Jedi. It would also inspire the design and size rules that made the TIE fighters of the later Empire so cheap, modular, and effective.
The Alpha/Delta/Eta line was eventually sold to Sienar Fleet Systems some years after the Galactic Republic became the Galactic Empire. Elements of the Eta-2 Actis design were used in the creation of Sienar Fleet Systems's TIE Fighter—most notably the vertical radiator panels and twin ion engines, not to mention the spoked viewing port, which was expanded in its TIE successor to become the fighter's main viewport.
However, the greatest legacy of the Actis-class was the philosophy behind it—that smaller, unshielded, and relatively under-equipped fighters, when mass-produced using cheap materials and methods, could be ultimately more effective than a lesser quantity of more expensive, high-quality starfighters. This opinion not only ushered in the dominance of the TIE series but spurred the phasing out of higher-quality fighters like the ARC-170. This decision would come back to haunt the Imperial Navy, however, when the ARC's successor, the T-65 X-wing starfighter, proved far superior to the TIE/ln swarms of the Empire.