A space fighter, strike fighter, or simply fighter, known by the Covenant as Strikecraft and to the UNSC as an interceptor, are small, versatile, and maneuverable spacecraft, primarily used for exoatmospheric interception, interdiction, or space-supremacy operations.
These ships are unable to enter slipspace by themselves, and need to be launched from planetary bases, orbiting space stations, or capital ships to conduct strike-operations against enemy warships, intercept fighters, and provide escort for warships and dropships. Their size varies from a few meters to well over 50 meters. Most known space fighters are spaceplanes, capable of operating in both atmospheric/exoatmospheric (A/X) and suborbital/orbital (S/O) environments. The Forerunner Warrior-Servants often used space fighters in combat. Some space fighters, called weapon-ships, could be remotely-controlled at a ratio of up to a million ships per warrior.
Warships primarily designed to transport and maintain fighter-squadrons are commonly known as carriers. In the UNSC Navy, starfighters were deployed from all warships larger than a corvette, as corvettes were too small to carry anything larger than a shuttle. Marathon-class heavy cruisers are capable of reconfiguring themselves as light carriers by sacrificing weapons installations and cargo bays for increased fighter capacity. UNSC doctrine typically dictates the launching of a fighter assault against an enemy fleet employing wolf-pack tactics before it can swarm a capital ship.
During the Battle of Biko, Nizat 'Kvarosee deployed his fighters in a tight "shell" around their motherships, ensuring that any attempt to board his vessels would be met with failure, considered an unusual deployment tactic by the UNSC. This differed from usual Covenant deployment tactics, which would see fighters deploy straight to attack the enemy, leaving their capital ships relatively undefended.
During the level Long Night of Solace, the player has the opportunity to fly the YSS-1000 Sabre over Reach. Through the Pilotable Seraph glitch, players are able to fly the Morsam-pattern Seraph as well.