- "It can't accelerate worth a wheep and it turns slower than a comet, but if you get in its sights, it can blow you to itty-bitty pieces. It would be embarrassing to have to inform your family you got shot apart by a shuttle, so stay alert."
- — Villian Dance
The Lambda-class T-4a Shuttle is a standard light utility craft heavily used by the Galactic Empire, but it also sees common use throughout the galaxy, particularly in militaries. It is based on a tri-wing design with a central stationary wing flanked by a pair of folding wings. When in flight position, the wing configuration resembles an inverted Y. When landing, the lower wings fold upwards.
The Lambda-class is designed as both a cargo and troop transport and can carry 80 tons or 20 soldiers. It has a crew of six: a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, communications officer, gunner, and engineer. The shuttle can be piloted by a skeleton crew consisting of a single pilot and a gunner, or just a pilot, during emergencies. It is also equipped with a Class 1 hyperdrive since its mission profile can involve traveling across the galaxy.
The Lamba-class is very well armed, with a total of four laser cannons and three blaster cannons, enabling it to effectively engage spacecraft and enemy troops. It is also protected by a powerful deflector shield which is powered by multiple generators. A heavily reinforced hull, capable of deflecting laser fire, furthers this protection. Since it is so well armed, the Lamba-class can travel across the galaxy without an escort, thus making it suitable for covert operations.
The Lambda-class shuttle is used along with the TIE/sh shuttle to transport officers between ships in a fleet. Lower ranking officers usually used the TIE shuttle, while the larger Lambda-class shuttles are reserved for flag officers. The Lambda-class is favored by Imperial personnel because it comes so heavily armed and shielded. Thus, it has found itself used by key Imperial officials including Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader.
These high-ranking officials often convert the cargo space into personal quarters and equip them with secure HoloNet transceivers directly connected to Imperial Center. Palpatine's shuttle was also rumored to be equipped with a cloaking device for added protection.
The shuttle was designed by former Cygnus Spaceworks employees, who were lured away by Sienar Fleet Systems with a promise of high salaries, a portion of future profits and even personal star yachts. Although these shuttles were primarily manufactured by Sienar, Cygnus was subcontracted to build a more heavily armed military version. It was the immediate successor of the Theta-class Shuttle, and was first introduced in 19 BBY at some point after the Imperial subjugation of Kashyyyk.