- "As I sat watching the howlrunners, the walls of the safari dome seemed to melt away. For a brief moment, I was part of the pack, hunting and howling with these magnificent predators. I have spent the rest of my life trying to recapture that feeling, from the cockpit of a starfighter."
- — Excerpt from The Anthropology of Engineering by Jo Ewsli
The I-7 Howlrunner is a short range attack starfighter originally employed by a dissident Imperial faction during the Galactic Civil War. These craft also find use outside of the Empire by various groups.
The Howlrunner is constructed around an aerodynamic fixed-wing structure. Two fins jut out of the sides of the craft, meant to function as rudimentary maneuvering flaps. In spite of the rather simplistic design (or perhaps because of it), the Howlrunner is superior in both space and atmosphere alike.
The controls have a small learning curve, ensuring that nearly any pilot with basic skills can control the craft — although only the most experienced soon discover the true power of this starfighter. While the Howlrunner is faster than a T-65 X-wing Starfighter or BTL Y-wing Starfighter, it is woefully outpaced by some of the newer, more advanced ships, like the E-wing and the TIE Interceptor.
The Howlrunner has a distinct advantage over the Empire's TIE's in that it has an onboard deflector shield generator. This protection, coupled with the starfighter's tiny proflie and low mass, make the Howlrunner a hard ship to destroy. However, the craft is not meant for long space battles or pitched one-on-one combat. The pitifully weak twin laser cannons and pathetic targeting system (which is riddled with blind spots) make most attempts at dogfighting fruitless. In order to offset this weakness, the Empire tends to hurl large amounts of Howlrunners at an enemy all at once, hoping that the sheer volume of fire will be too much for their targets.
Although it is only a mediocre fighter at best, the Howlrunner is often seen at remote Imperial bases where its blinding speed allows for rapid reconnaissance when necessary.
The I-7 Howlrunner was originally conceived of and designed by starfighter engineer Jo Ewsli. After receiving an epiphany during a viewing of a pack of howlrunners, dangerous omnivores from the planet Kamar, Ewsli set out to create a spacecraft that emulated their unique predatory instincts. The creatures attacked in tight packs and were unyielding in their pursuit of prey, two abilities that Ewsli thought could be incorporated into a squadron with the right ships. In this vein, Ewsli unveiled a starfighter that, like its beastly namesake, had superb agility and unparalleled speed.
The Howlrunner was the first starfighter designed and mass produced by Incom Corporation after the fiasco that the X-wing became. The main point of building the Howlrunner in the first place was an attempt to divert attention from the company's failure to stop the abduction of the X-wing's schematics.