Low Altitude Assault Transport (LAAT) (a.k.a. "Republic Gunship") is a specialized airspeeder from the fictional Star Wars Universe. Usually deployed at high altitudes by Republic assault ships, the LAATs would use their light weaponry to clear areas where they could deposit their cargos.
The LAAT serves the purpose of helicopter gunships and cargo carriers in the real world. It first appeared in Attack of the Clones during the Battle of Geonosis where they rescued the surviving Jedi from the execution arena, disabled and destroyed many of the fleeing Confederacy capital ships and destroyed many of the hailfire droids.
The LAAT/i mounts numerous weapons emplacements, including three blasters, two single and two twin composite-beam lasers, eight anti-aircraft rockets and two mass drivers for launching larger missile weapons. It also stored two 74-Z speederbikes as well as a single FX7 medical droid.
1600 of these gunships were deployed in the Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. These gunships continued to be a staple in the Grand Army of the Republic throughout the Clone Wars, and were still in use on Coruscant, Utapau and other military campaigns in Revenge of the Sith.
Although the LAAT/i was designed primarily to be an atmospheric transport and air-to-ground combatant, it could achieve space travel by closing the airlock bay doors on either side of the craft. Its maximum speed in the atmosphere was 620 km/h (384 mph).
The LAAT/c carrier variant had longer wings for enhanced stability when carrying large loads. This gunship had a mounted pair of blaster cannons in front, and a single remote blaster cannon in rear. The crew consisted of a pilot and co-pilot, although a single clone pilot could fly the LAAT/c without the help of a second. Transports of this type carried AT-TE walkers into battle on Geonosis and other battlefields during the Clone Wars. It was also capable of retreiving damaged AT-TEs.
400 of these gunships were deployed during the Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones.
LAAT/i (ARC variation)
This modified LAAT inserts ARC Trooper units behind enemy lines. It is fitted with extra internal equipment, but otherwise resembles a normal transport. These transports are often painted blue instead of red. (Though the transport shown in the animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars was red like the others, due to a coloring mistake).
Later in the Clone Wars, the ARC Troopers would paint eyes, mouth and stripes of predatory animals, such as the rancor, on the front of their LAAT's. (This is a homage to the colorful front markings of World War II fighterplanes.)
The LAAT/v variant served as a small vehicle transport. Slightly bigger than its LAAT/i brother, the LAAT/v carried anywhere from 1-4 military speeder bikes, as well as the usual compliment of soldiers. Being primarily used for recon purposes, it was outfitted with surveillance and spy gear in addition to standard armament. The gunship would land several clicks away from a destination to be scouted, then troopers would mount the speeder bikes to comb the designated area.
Alliance Assault Gunship
After the Old Republic faded into legend, the Rebel Alliance salvaged and restored a number of old LAAT/i gunships. Used as space assault flyers and transports for planetary assaults, the Assault Gunship, as it was renamed, served as a boarding craft in the Alliance armada. It appears in Battlefront II, but not in the movies. These restored gunships appear nearly identical to their Republic predecessors, apart from the repainting of the Republic symbol into that of the Rebel Alliance.
The LAAT-model airspeeders and gunships seen in Attack Of The Clones, the Clone Wars cartoon series, and Revenge Of The Sith are influenced by the design of the real-life, Russian-made, Mil Mi-24 Hind-D gunship.It shows in the anderhalled wings, the box-shaped troop compartment in the middle of the craft, and the slanted, dual-bubble cockpit. There is a possibility that the design of the LAAT was also influenced by the design of the fictional UD-4L Dropship from the 1986 sci-fi/action movie, Aliens.