- "The Tapani will see their own weapons turned against them, and our Mantas will lead the charge."
- — Shaela Aimreh Dorcha
The Manta-class Assault Starfighter was first manufactured by the Tapani Starship Cooperative at the Tallaan Shipyards during the height of the Galactic Empire and became the starfighter of choice in the Tapani Sector. The starfighter was designed to defend against pirates that preyed on ships traveling the Shapani Bypass, something which it accomplished amply. The design would later be modified by the Cult of Shadow after Shaela Aimreh Dorcha became part of the organization.
The Manta-class starfighter has a flat, organic design inspired by the creature for which it was named. It features a magnetic docking clamp instead of a mechanical landing claw, allowing the starfighter to clamp to the hull of a larger ship for transportation. The Tapani Sector version of the Manta-class starfighter is not fitted with a hyperdrive, hence the need for interstellar transport.
The starfighter has two configurations, acting as a high-speed interceptor or attack ship. While in intercept mode, the wings are configured parallel to the hull which maximizes speed but only provides average maneuverability, akin to an A-wing. Although few ships can outrun a Manta in this configuration, the aggressive capability of the ship is reduced since most power is automatically routed to the engines, leaving only the ion cannons enabled. When in attack mode, the wings swing down 90 degrees, enabling the fighter's two heavy laser cannons to be deployed, therefore greatly increasing the ship's attack potential. In attack mode, the fighter increases its maneuverability though it loses significant speed when it reduces its forward momentum for maneuvering.
Cult of Shadow
After the design was adopted by the Cult of Shadow, it was modified to fit in with the organization's need for greater mobility. It remains largely unchanged except that it sports a class one hyperdrive. This feat was accomplished by removing the gunner requirement and using that space to add in the new equipment, with no loss in performance. With the understanding that only Force-users would be using the starfighter, it was decided that a gunner would be unnecessary to get the most out of the starfighter.
The other major change was the replacement of the heavy laser cannons with warhead launchers. This was done to offset the weakness of the starfighter's reduced armament in interception mode, giving cult pilots the ability to deliver a heavier punch at such high speeds. The vessel was also rewired in a way so that the medium laser cannons would now function instead of the ion cannons.