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Over the decades since its demise, the Galactic Empire from the Star Wars saga has proven to be nothing greater than a historical money pit. With a $4.6 sextillion gross galactic product in play (roughly), a good amount of that wealth goes towards pet projects like the two Death Stars and the various weapons, armaments, and personnel needed to crush an upstart rebellion. Yet another example of how much of a fiscal nightmare the Empire has always been can be found in the cost of an AT-AT, a vehicle that clocks in at a production cost of $226.5 million, with an additional $192,000 needed to staff it.
Best Casino broke down the costs to build and operate an AT-AT, and the hefty sum comes as a bit of a shock, while at the same time weighing in at a much lower figure than the Death Star's $419 quintillion price tag. The $226.5 million price point is broken out into the following costs: $146 million for the main armor and construction of the AT-AT, $72 million for two separate laser weapons systems, and $8.5 million capping off the total cost for the leg joints and motors that help the vehicle go. As for that additional $192,000 a year? That's for the three command officers needed to pilot the vehicle, and not including the 40 Stormtroopers that it can into battle.
Ultimately, the question that needs to be asked is, are the AT-ATs worth the $226.5 million per unit price tag? In our honest opinion, they totally are. Considering all of the other things the Empire spends on in the Star Wars galaxy, this is probably one of the more sound investments that have been cataloged under the reign of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. One of the reasons we've come to this conclusion is, except for incidents involving a tow cable and a scrappy farm boy with a lightsaber, the AT-AT is pretty much an impervious assault vehicle. You can see just how effective the AT-AT is, courtesy of the following footage from the Battle Of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.
The key to the success of the AT-AT is, of course, in its advanced design. With impenetrable armor plating, this land beast of the Star Wars universe cannot be taken down by conventional means. Just ask anyone who's played the video games for Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, or Star Wars: Battlefront, and they'll tell you that trying to hitch that tow cable is one pain, with the seemingly endless loops that need to be made around the transport to bring it down taking yet another eternity.
If the Empire deploys the right amount of TIE Fighters to cover the AT-ATs in their combat zone of choice, the structural flaws in its design can be protected enough to launch a successful assault on enemy territory. Were the officers in the camp of the Star Wars villains smart enough to think like this, Luke Skywalker may not have lived long enough to find out who his father was. But history played out the way it did for a reason, and in the end, the good guys brought down a rather formidable piece of machinery.