Starfuries are space-superiority starfighters armed with dual pulse cannons mounted beneath the cockpit. Four "wings" radiate from the cockpit, ending in large engines, but the wings do not have control surfaces or other aerodynamic characteristics that would allow the fighter to maneuver in an atmosphere; they can only operate in the vacuum of space.
Each of a Starfury’s engines can thrust forward or backward, allowing the fighter to rapidly rotate to face in any direction. Arguments have been made that the placement of the engines makes the fighter unnecessarily vulnerable to attack by increasing its overall profile, but there may have been other, unspecified design considerations (heat dissipation, radiation leakage, or some unpredictable issue) that required moving the engines away from the cockpit. Starfuries do not have artificial gravity technology with which to compensate for inertial effects on the pilot, limiting their usable acceleration to the tolerance of their human operators.
The pulse cannons of Starfuries can fire at variable rates. Presumably the destructive energy of each pulse increases with the interval between pulses. Starfuries generally demonstrate higher rates of fire when attacking fast-moving, lightly armored targets like starfighters  and lower rates of fire when attacking slow-moving, heavily armored targets like capital ships . The firepower of these weapons is sufficient to cause significant damage to capital warships, and a squadron of Starfuries was once able to destroy a Centauri Warcruiser without capital ship support, although it must be noted that the Warcruiser was a suicide drone that did not attempt to evade or return fire upon its attackers . The pulse cannons have the ability to track targets within an unspecified arc in front of the fighter .
Starfuries have a claw-like device mounted on the ventral surface which can grab other vessels for towing.
Thunderbolt-class are multi-role starfighters used by the Earth Alliance in space-superiority, air-support, and surface-attack roles. Thunderbolts have been in service since at least 2260.
Thunderbolts differ from earlier Starfuries in at least two major ways. First, they have retractable airfoils that allow them to enter a planetary atmosphere and remain maneuverable. This allows them to operate in an air-support or surface-attack role, as seen in "Severed Dreams". The airfoils may be retractable for several reasons:
- to reduce the fighter's sensor profile, making them more difficult to detect or target
- to reduce angular momentum, increasing maneuverability in space
- to minimize exposure of their fragile structure to micrometeor impacts
- to allow them to occupy the same hangar rack as an Aurora-class Starfury
Second, in addition to "four uni-directional pulse cannons" mounted in the fighter’s chin, a Thunderbolt can carry four missiles in racks underneath its wings. These missiles were used only against surface targets in the series.