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The ion cannon was a new development made by scientists of the Klingon Empire, a ship-mounted directed energy weapon utilizing ion technology, outfitted on the Klingon Negh'Var-class heavy carriers. The weapon fired a single powerful burst of energy that did a great deal of damage to enemy targets, however, once used it would take some time before the necessary power levels were restored for the weapon to be used again. (TNG game: Armada)

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A planetary-based ion cannon at Echo Base on the planet Hoth.
"A weapon that neutralizes all power to our ships, leaving the targets defenseless."
Plo Koon

An ion cannon was a weapon which fired highly ionized particles or highly ionized plasma.



"We'll never make it through unless the fighters can eliminate the ion cannons on the Star Destroyers!"
―Admiral Ackbar

These particles seriously interfered with the operation of electronics and computer systems, shorting circuits and often disabling them outright. The actual physical damage would sometimes result in fused joints on machines, due to the heat produced.[1]

Large negative-ion pulses were charged in a turbine generator then channeled into a plasma charge or released as a large pulse towards a target. As a result, ion cannons were the weapon of choice for subduing, rather than destroying, enemy starships, vehicles, shields, or droids. There are many types of ion cannons, including ground based, like the N-K7, planet based, such as the one at the Echo Hoth base, and ship mounted ion cannons, such as the one on the Malevolence.


"Order the defense towers to fire ion cannons and turbolasers at will!"
Queen Amanoa, ordering the groundside defensive cannons during the Battle of Iziz

They were often used on capital ships, such as Star Destroyers, to facilitate the capture of enemy vessels or disabling them to allow safe close-range fire. They also helped to drop shields prior to destroying enemy vessels. Fighters such as the B-wing,Y-wing, TIE/D Defender, and the Razor fighter in some cases, were also equipped with ion cannons, of much smaller size. Ships owned by bounty hunters were sometimes modified to use ion cannons,such as Boba Fett's Slave I.

A more powerful form of the ion cannon, the massive ion pulse cannon, was used in the Clone Wars, mounted on the CIS ship, the Malevolence. It was capable of disabling Venator-class Star Destroyers and could stop entire fleets in their tracks with a single shot. The weapon overloaded near the Balmorra Run thanks to the efforts of Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano.

They could also be planet-based weapons, as seen in the Battle of Hoth, where the Rebel Alliance used a stolen v-150 Planet Defender to disable the Star Destroyer Tyrant, allowing a transport to escape through the Imperial blockade.

However, there are certain types of ion cannons which are meant to do more physical damage with electrical disruption as a plus. These types of ion cannon, however, have the drawback of low firing rate and are often just replaced with heavy turbolasers.

One type of ion cannon was the Kuat V-200, used to break through shielding and bring down heavily armored vehicles. There was also a specialized version for taking down the heavily armored spacetroopers.

The Galactic Empire also experimented with ion cannons by modifying AT-ATs to become All Terrain Ion Cannons, or AT-ICs, effectively creating a mobile ion cannon. The AT-ICs saw limited action during the Galactic Civil War.

Behind the scenes

Due to their unique mission profile as a disabling weapon, ion cannons have been popular in franchise video games, particularly Star Wars: X-wing and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, as well as their respective sequels. The representation of ion cannons in the games has been noteworthy; unlike the only appearance of the weapon in the movies, they have been seen to be largely fighter-based in the games. In another departure from the movie appearance, the discharge of an ion blast was colored cerulean blue in both series (all of which predate the blue laser bolts seen in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith).

Despite the real-world physics of spaceflight, disabling a craft with ion cannons in the X-wing series of games had the effect of stopping it dead in space rather than simply crippling its flight control system.[2] Contradictorily, the use of a Y-wing starfighter's ion cannons to disable Kasan Moor's TIE/In interceptor just above the surface of Gerrard V in a cutscene appeared to disable the Imperial craft's flight control systems, but not its engine system, resulting in the interceptor flying in a straight line without being able to deviate from its course.[3]


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  • Darth Bane: Rule of Two
  • Jedi Apprentice: The Mark of the Crown
  • Cloak of Deception
  • Star Wars: Battlefront
  • Outbound Flight (Mentioned only)
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Rising Malevolence"
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shadow of Malevolence"
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels (Appears in flashback(s))
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  • MedStar I: Battle Surgeons
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  • Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
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ISD-II fitted with octuple ion cannon batteries lets loose a barrage during the Battle of Endor.
  • Star Wars: Empire at War
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  • Star Wars Rebellion: My Brother, My Enemy
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back junior novel
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (First appearance)
  • One Last Night in the Mos Eisley Cantina: The Tale of the Wolfman and the Lamproid
  • X-wing: Wedge's Gamble
  • X-wing: The Bacta War
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  • Before the Storm
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  • Young Jedi Knights: Shards of Alderaan
Concept art by Ralph McQuarrie.
  • Edge of Victory I: Conquest
  • Dark Journey (Mentioned only)
  • Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
  • The Unifying Force (Mentioned only)
  • Star Wars Legacy 36: Renegade


Notes and references

  1. Dark Apprentice
  2. Star Wars: X-wing
  3. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

This article uses material from the "Ion cannon" article on the Starwars wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Star Wars Fanon

Up to date as of February 04, 2010

The Star Wars wiki of fan invention.

Ion cannons were a form of weapon primarily used on starships.

This article is a stub by Dornicus. The author might eventually expand it.

This article uses material from the "Ion cannon" article on the Star Wars Fanon wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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