The 450-meter long Strike-class was capable of challenging larger Alliance cruisers with its surprisingly heavy load of firepower, strong shields, and high sublight speed. Armaments included 20 turbolaser cannons, 10 turbolaser batteries, ten ion cannons, and some point-defense weapons.
The order of battle considered two Strike-class cruisers the equivalent of one Victory-class Star Destroyer.
In addition, the interior storage space of the Strike-class could be modified for different missions. The most common sets were designed for planetary garrison, space superiority, and planetary assault. Planetary garrison loadouts included an assault company, two AT-STs, one AT-AT, and several support speeders; space superiority included up to three squadrons of TIEs; the planetary assault loadout included five AT-ATs. However, the internal storage spaces and skeletal structure proved weak against enemy fire once the shields were down.
A departure from the Navy's trend towards increasingly large warships, the Strike-class cruiser was an admission to diminished ability to defend space superiority against the Rebel Alliance and other forces as the conflict wore on.
While Luke Skywalker was still recovering from his injuries from Cloud City, the Rebel Fleet was traveling to its rendezvous point, when an Imperial Strike-class cruiser located them and attempted to transmit a communication channel to Vader of the coordinates of the Rebels. However, the Rebels reacted by jamming Imperial communications and dispatching Rogue Squadron's X-Wings under the command of Wedge Antilles. The Strike Cruiser's TIE Fighter squadron was quickly overwhelmed, so her commanding officer set a course to escape. The Imperials safeguarded the rear of their Strike Cruiser by concentrating its shields towards the stern of the ship, which successfully deflected the first barrage from one of the X-Wings. Rogue Five then exploited the relatively low shielding of the bow of the ship and fired a pair of proton torpedoes that blew the Strike Cruiser apart. Rogue Three's X-Wing engine was damaged in the process, and the Rebel Fleet was forced to change course as a precaution to avoid discovery.
During rogue Admiral Zaarin's campaign in the Omar system, he successfully trapped Admiral Thrawn's flagship Sceltor and sent the Strike Cruiser Serpent to destroy his nemesis. While Thrawn's Victory I-class Star Destroyer was nominally the more powerful vessel, Zaarin's cruiser had the advantage since it approached from the rear where most of the Star Destroyer's turbolasers had a poor firing arc. However this move backfired when Maarek Stele used a Mag Pulse torpedo to disable the Serpent just as it moved into firing range of the Scheltor. Zaarin's Strike Cruiser instead found itself temporarily incapacitated and its shields gradually drained by the hammering of Thrawn's flagship. By the time the Mag Pulse effects had worn off, Stele eliminated the remainder of the Serpent's shield and disabled it with his TIE Defender's ion cannons.
During the Imperial campaign against the proliferation of TIE Defender technology in the Eva-T system, the Strike Cruiser was used by five factions; loyalist Imperials commanded by Thrawn, the traitor Zaarin, the Rneekii, the Nami, and the Rebel Alliance. How such a class of vessel with Imperial origins becoming so widespread is never made clear, however Zaarin cooperated with the Nami for some time, and the Nami later tried to sell the TIE Defenders to the Rebels, which could explain how the Strike Cruisers fell into enemy hands.
Ironically, the one big disadvantage of the Strike-class cruiser was a side effect of its biggest advantage. Due to the modular design of the ship, a single, well-placed hit could shut down entire systems or weapon batteries if the densely arrayed power connectors between two sections of the ship were damaged. If the ship suffered too many critical hits by large-impact weapons (such as proton torpedoes or heavy turbolasers) it was also possible that its structure might simply break apart (as was the fate of the Termagant). By the time the ship was introduced into full naval service, this was only considered to be a minor flaw, as the Empire had enough resources to replenish damaged or lost components that were considered "disposable" at that time.
However, as the war raged on and large starships started to become a rare sight, the Imperial Remnant felt the need to make this otherwise reliable, versatile, and thus tactically important class of cruisers more durable, which resulted in reinforcing the connections between the cruiser's basic integral structure and the attached modules in order to prevent easy decouplings. Nevertheless, these spots remained the most vulnerable parts of the Strike-class, and pilots and commanders on both sides of the Galactic Civil War adapted their tactics to deal with this knowledge.
At least one Strike-class cruiser, Peregrine, was modified by the Rebel Alliance with two large, bulbous housings for gravity well projectors, which were removed from a captured Imperial Interdictor cruiser. This ship was designated by the Rebels as a modified strike cruiser.
The Strike-class cruiser was also redesigned to produce the Eidolon for Sate Pestage, but this prototype never went into full production.
One Strike-class cruiser, the Termagant, was used by Warlord Zsinj alongside his Super Star Destroyer Iron Fist to intercept and destroy a New Republic bacta convoy.