In the early days of the Rebel Alliance, the Empire's TIE series starfighters possessed a substantial speed advantage over any fighter craft the Rebellion could field. Recognizing this deficiency, General Jan Dodonna set out to design a dedicated interceptor capable of outrunning anything in the Imperial arsenal. Basing his work on the layout of the R-22 Spearhead, Dodonna's plans called for harnessing the power of two Novaldex J-77 Event Horizon engines, high performance units normally found on much larger vessels, to give the new model an unprecedented thrust-to-mass ratio.
Although this single-minded focus on speed and maneuverability yielded an interceptor that excels in the Alliance's typical hit-and-hype mission profile, it did not come without significant drawbacks that make the A-wing one of the rebellion's least survivable ships. In practice, the A-wing suffers from short endurance, weak shields and armor, limited astrogational assistance, and small warhead capacity. The fighter has also proved itself extremely difficult to control for all but the most sure-handed pilots, and its engines require constant tuning, giving it the worst maintenance-to-flight time ratio of any Rebel fighter. In spite of these flaws, A-wing units play a critical role in the Alliance's starfighter strategy.