‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Reveals The U-Wing, Its First New Rebel Ship

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' is set to introduce a host of new ships to the now familiar galaxy far, far away.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set to feature a host of settings, ships, and characters familiar to Star Wars fans, thanks to its unique place in the timeline of the iconic sci-fi universe, but it now appears the highly anticipated film will also be introducing heretofore-never-seen elements as well, including at least one new Rebel starship.

The vehicle in question is the U-wing, a new craft in the Rebellion’s ragtag starfleet that bears little resemblance to any other ship associated with the Alliance. As Gizmodo points out, the U-wing, which is known in-universe as an Incom UT-60D, isn’t a fighter craft like previous “alphabet” ships, which include the X-wing, B-wing, and Y-wing. While it may bear some superficial connection to the A-wing, that ship was a small, one man fighter, while the U-wing is considerably larger, and designed for use both as a gunship and as a troop transport.

Seemingly defined by its elongated s-foils, the U-wing can actually dramatically change its configuration by locking those appendages in an attack position, just like the X-wing. As highlighted in a newly released ILM reference turntable, the s-foils rotate backwards to become wings, ostensibly to allow the U-wing to provide aerial support inside an atmosphere.

The U-wing was introduced to the public during a recent episode of The Star Wars Show, which released a still from Rogue One depicting the craft landing at the Rebel’s secret base on Yavin IV. While the ship may come as something of a surprise to fans, it is easy to realize in hindsight that the U-wing was actually revealed over a year ago, though it was unclear at the time what it actually was. At Celebration 2015 in Anaheim, some of the earliest concept art from Rogue One was unveiled, depicting a group of Alliance fighters being dropped into combat in the midst of a rainy, dark night. In the background of that image, the U-wing can clearly be seen, its lower bay doors opened to disembark its crew.

While the U-wing may be the most dramatically new ship to be revealed from Rogue One, it actually isn’t the first, as IGN notes. Each Star Wars movie traditionally introduces new characters, settings, and vehicles, and Rogue One appears primed to add not just a few ships, but also fresh variations on classic models. Imperial Director Krennic, for example, will have his own shuttle, which appears to share a similar tri-winged design with the more familiar Imperial shuttle first introduced nearly three decades ago in Return of the Jedi.

The Imperial forces will also utilize a previously unknown, streamlined version of the TIE fighter, known as a TIE Striker, which is designed for both space-based and in-atmospheric operation. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the TIE Strikers’ existence was first disclosed several months ago, at the same time that Darth Vader’s presence in the movie was confirmed by the leak of a tie-in guide set to be published concurrently with the release of Rogue One.

The iconic Imperial walkers from The Empire Strikes Back will also be returning in the film, albeit in a new and much larger variant. First unveiled in Rogue One‘s initial trailer, the AT-ACT (All Terrain Armored Cargo Transport) is not only bigger than the standard combat walker, but it also features a dedicated cargo bed which can be used to bring combat munitions onto a battlefield, or to transport heavy construction materials.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters in just a few short months, on December 16.

[Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios]