Decades even before the Republic was made aware of the existence of the Kaminoan clone army, the Senate backed multiple elaborate projects to support and enhance the effectiveness of the various, smaller defense forces aligned with the Republic and its member worlds. One such project, completed in 46BBY—14 years before the events of The Phantom Menace—was the Katana Fleet.
A 200-ship strong fleet made entirely of Rendili StarDrive dreadnaught heavy cruisers, the Katana Fleet was valuable to the Republic not because of the ships themselves or its size, but because of the manpower required to sustain the fleet. Before the Clone War, the Republic Judicial Forces’ Starfleet was a fraction of the size of Republic navies at the height of its reach and influence. The Katana Fleet, carrying complements of experimental walkers to assist in ground assaults, should’ve needed roughly 16,000 officers to fully crew an armada of its size, but through the use of experimental, remote-controlled computer networks known as slave-rigging, the Katana dreadnaughts could be operated by a crew a fraction of the size, roughly 2,000.
In a time where the Republic had no standing army beyond the peacekeeping forces of the Judicial branch, the Katana Fleet—also known as the Dark Force, both for the cruisers’ dark paint jobs but due to the fact they were all dimly lit, due to each vessel requiring limited life support and crew space—represented what could be the future of Republic military actions, given increasing stressors in the Outer Rim such as piracy and the slave trade representing growing issues for the Republic: a dominant Fleet that could protect Republic interests, at the fraction of the sentient effort.