"Banshees of legend warned of death, and today all UNSC veterans know the cry of this glittering alien terror."
The Banshee is a versatile personal aerial assault craft in the Covenant's vehicular arsenal, piloted either by a Jiralhanae or a Sangheili. In most designs, the cowling of the craft are purple in color and act as an outer 'shell'. It is equipped with two wings which terminate in a propulsion jet and an anti-gravity pod, leaving behind a signature vaporous exhaust trail while flying. The craft is capable of achieving velocity over 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph). and reaching an altitude of 100 - 300 meters. In addition to its versatile design, the Banshee is capable of performing complex maneuvers, such as aileron rolls and flips.
The Banshee sports two weapon pods attached underneath the fuselage; each pod contains a Class-2 plasma cannon capable of firing in 100-250 kilowatts range and a Class-2 projectile launcher. The plasma cannons, though classified as "light", are deadly to the common infantry; one bolt will instantly kill a lightly armored target. Heavily armored targets like the MJOLNIR-equipped SPARTANs can only withstand a few bolts before being killed. A direct hit from the Banshee's fuel rod cannon could instantly blow any infantry target into bits of charred flesh.
In the context of the Halo games, all of the plasma weapon's strength and lethality are compensated for the sake of gameplay.
Various designs of significant uniqueness have emerged within the Twilight Covenant opposite to the Covenant Empire, each carrying differing blueprints and weaponry.
The Banshee is one of the most versatile and agile crafts in the Covenant arsenals. In the control of an experienced pilot, they can be extraordinarily difficult to take out, making it an easy way to penetrate enemy lines and disable some of their infantry.
Its twin, rapid fire plasma cannons are exceptionally efficient at taking out individual infantry, and a single fuel rod cannon can make easy work of an entire group of enemy infantry. The boosting capability of the vehicle allows for quick entry and exit from combat situations, or to catch up to a particular target. Boosting and evasive abilities allows a pilot to outpace a homing projectile, or slip away from opposing vehicles and small arms fire. The boosting capability may also be used to ram your opponent to get an easy kill. Utilizing aileron rolls and flips, the Banshee is able to avoid slow moving projectiles at short or long range, while also facilitating quick turns around obstacles or close threats. As a support aircraft, the Banshee is able to pin down enemy forces until ground forces can move in, or destroy light structures that may be obstructing ground forces from advancing.
The Banshee is lightly armored and, thus, vulnerable to high velocity rounds, explosives, anti-vehicle weaponry, and even moderate small arms fire from human projectile weaponry. The Banshee's low flight ceiling makes it very vulnerable to weapons like the M41 LAAG, which can easily punch through the armor of the Banshee, and injure or kill the pilot. The Banshee is also prone to EMP devices which can disable the craft either temporarily or permanently.
Maneuvering the Banshee takes a considerable amount of skill to do; an unskilled pilot may crash the banshee into the ground or another oncoming object by accident.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, the rocket launcher is the only handheld weapon powerful enough to take down a Banshee with a single shot. To increase chances of defeating one without wasting ammunition, it is highly recommended for the player to separate from the rest of the action; the player's surroundings might divert the player's attention from the Banshee. Once in a relatively sheltered position, focus entirely on downing the Banshee. If need be, get the pilot's attention with small arms fire. Get the Banshee to turn and start a strafing run on the player's position; the pilot will not break off his run until he gets close to the player.
- In Halo 2 and Halo: Reach, it is highly recommended for players to equip themselves with the rocket launcher when facing a Banshee. Make sure to lock-on to the Banshees and anticipate their behaviour; firing a missile when the pilot performs a maneuver will surely confirms a kill.
- In Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, it is always useful to disable the Banshee using an EMP burst from a plasma pistol. Once disabled, the Banshee will be far easier to destroy.
- Alert your teammates as soon as you spot the enemy Banshee in the air.
- Splattering with a Banshee is very tempting; however, you can easily be stuck with a grenade, especially in tight quarters or, even worse, be skyjacked.
- Know when you are taking enough damage; if you suffer too much damage, the Banshee can be disabled and the enemy can use it in their favor.
- The Banshee can be a big threat if not taken out quickly. To lessen the chance of being blown up, engage the enemy in a hit and run style.
- The biggest bane of the Banshee is the Spartan Laser. Before charging with a Banshee, ensure that your team is in control of the Spartan Laser.
- If you boost into a wall while damaged, the Banshee will explode and eject you with downed shields. This is a useful escape if being skyjacked.
- Trickery can be a weapon that can get you a free Banshee. If you run into a tight corner and distract an enemy Banshee, the pilot may become overconfident and try to splatter you. Funnel it in to a tight area to trap it and possibly skyjack it.
- Even if the Banshee is destroyed, it still can be deadly. The canopy and the hull can become debris of doom, crushing anyone who is underneath. Be sure the parts are on the ground before you advance.
- A tactic against tanks using the Banshee is to try to come as close as you can to the tank undetected, and then boost. When right above the target, eject and then you can board the tank.
- In Halo:Reach's multiplayer, one must be very careful of spawning on your partner if they are in a banshee. The fall damage can be enough to kill you immediately after you spawn.
- In Halo:Reach, if you use a sniper rifle, you can destroy the banshee with five shot if you hit it head on, unlike in previous titles, where the Banshee was nearly invulnerable to small arms fire