Incorporating the previous successes of the TIE series starfighters, along with those of the Rebel Alliance, the TIE Avenger was one of the first production starfighters to break away from the Imperial doctrine of quantity over quality. Incorporating deflector shields, a hyperdrive, and warhead launchers, it was also significantly faster and more maneuverable than any existing Imperial or Rebel starfighter, so enemy pilots nicknamed them "brights".
The TIE Avenger was a descendant of the TIE/Advanced series, which were designed as the next generation to succeed the TIE Fighter. Avengers shared many commonalities with the TIE Advanced x1; notably bent-wing solar arrays, flattened and extended fuselage, and non-standard wing pylons in contrast to other TIE series fighters.
Similar to its older cousin, the TIE Interceptor, the Avenger featured the intimidating pointed dagger solar arrays, not only in front but also in the rear. The Avenger's sleek design was credited with significantly reducing its profile, compared to other Advanced prototypes, while still retaining a comparable surface area for radiating excess heat.
At least one model run of the Avengers, such as those deployed to the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Dauntless in the Gaerboud system, featured hull assemblies elliptical in shape, coinciding with the craft's overall smoother bodylines, in contrast with those of its spherical TIE relatives. Several other models of the Avenger, as well as the succeeding TIE Defender and the similarly elite TIE Hunter and TIE Aggressor, returned to the traditional spherical cockpit.
The TIE Avenger's primary weapon system was four Sienar Fleet Systems L-s9.3 laser cannons. These laser cannons were initially deployed on the TIE Interceptor, and later incorporated into the TIE/D Defender. These cannons were also more powerful than those of the standard TIE Fighter, capable of destroying an asteroid in a single burst. The Avenger's cannons could be fired in single, dual, or linked modes depending on the pilot's preference.
Warhead launchers were another weapon system that TIE Avengers took to the battlefield. SFS M-g-2 general-purpose warhead launchers formed the Avenger's secondary weapon system, possessing a magazine capacity of four concussion missiles each; however, they could also be loaded with three proton torpedoes, two heavy rockets, or one space bomb. The Avenger could carry a double load of sixteen missiles or twelve torpedoes, however this was an extremely rare compared to the TIE Bomber and TIE Defender. This standard feature was yet another advancement against the older TIE fighters, and the beginning of a major shift in Imperial doctrine leaning towards quality over quantity.
A tractor beam, often known as the beam weapon, was an optional system developed first for the TIE Avenger, and later used on the TIE Defender, Missile Boat, and occasionally the Assault Gunboat. During dogfights, Imperial pilots would use the beam weapon to snare enemy fighters in front of them and prevent them from escaping the Avenger's firing arc. The tractor beam was only effective in close range and could only be used for a short period of time, as its energy reserve was quickly exhausted and required frequent recharging. That was enough for the Avenger pilot to blast an enemy at point blank with either a quad-linked laser burst or warhead (without acquiring a full missile lock). Elite pilots such as Maarek Stele even took advantage of the tractor beam to successfully hit enemy fighters with advanced proton torpedoes (bearing in mind that torpedoes were more than twice as powerful as missiles but were too slow to track fighters on their own). The tractor beam paired with the Avenger's exceptional maneuverability gave it the upper hand in space superiority.
The TIE Avenger was powered by the SFS I-s3a solar ionization reactor and featured the new SFS P-sx7.4 ion engines. This new propulsion system, rated at one hundred and forty-five MGLT, pushed the Avenger faster than any previous TIE starfighter. The Avenger was also more nimble than the TIE/In interceptor and the RZ-1 A-wing interceptor, with a maneuverability rating of one hundred and fifty DPF. These factors were a major contributor in TIE Avenger's success over the Rebel Alliance's fighters.
The TIE Advanced x1 pioneered the inclusion of a hyperdrive but it suffered from reduced maneuverability compared to the standard TIE Fighter. For the succeeding TIE Avenger, a major obstacle was overcome when Admiral Zaarin discovered a partner in the Habeen, who achieved a breakthrough in making a new hyperdrive model that could be small and reliable enough, eliminating the disadvantages of hyperdrive inclusion. The final TIE Advanced prototype far exceeded expectations by including a hyperdrive, shields, and a general purpose warhead launcher, all while surpassing the TIE Fighter's trademark speed and agility.
As impressive as its speed and agility is, the Avenger was still a small craft in the mold of the TIE/LN starfighter and TIE/In interceptor, and emphasized space superiority due to its small warhead load and lack of ion cannons. The Avenger lost the performance crown by a small margin to the TIE/D Defender. While the difference was minor, it was significant considering the Defender's triple wing design and larger hull, and numerous advances over the Avenger, such as ion cannons. This made the Defender larger and heavier than any of its predecessors—a fact which made its speed and maneuverability all the more impressive.
Coinciding with the trend of improved quality in Imperial starfighters, the Avenger was equipped with deflector shields. In 3 ABY, it's shields were equivalent to the Assault Gunboat and twice that of the T-65 X-wing starfighter.
Like earlier TIE series fighters, the Avenger's great speed and agility coupled with its small size made it a difficult target. In a similar precedent, the Avenger's armor plating was marginal, affording only as much protection as the TIE Interceptor. However, the inclusion of deflector shields meant that the Avenger would not fall prey to stray debris or laser fire that claimed unshielded TIEs, and with its shields at full power the Avenger was exceptionally difficult to destroy. The succeeding Defender, while still remarkably fast and agile as the Avenger, relied more heavily on shields because its triple wing design gave opponents a larger profile.
The TIE Avenger's primary role was space superiority or starfighter interception. The Avenger excelled in this role, considering that during the Galactic Civil War, no Rebel Alliance fighter could out-run or outmaneuver the Avenger. In the right hands, it could outmatch its intended replacement, the TIE Defender, as the Avenger's small size made it a more difficult target and afforded it better maneuverability, and as the Defender's large tri-wing design introduced several blind spots. Coupled with the tractor beam weapon, this made the Avenger even more deadly in space superiority.
Bearing in mind the state of the archaic TIE Bomber, the TIE Avenger was at times called on to perform assault or bombing roles. With its nimble frame, the Avenger was easily able to dodge defensive fire, even more so than its successor, the Defender. The Avenger was often utilized to carry heavy rockets and heavy space bombs, two very powerful but slow projectile weapons, as its high speed could offset the warhead's disadvantages. The Avenger afforded expert pilots such as Maarek Stele the chance to use rockets in hit-and-run attacks against smaller craft such as transports and shuttles; while difficult it was rewarding as a rocket was far more powerful than a proton torpedo.
The Avenger's small hull was a drawback as it lacked the large capacity warhead magazines necessary to destroy larger capital ships. Also lacking ion cannons, the TIE Avenger was also reliant on assault starfighters, to disable mission critical craft.
The TIE Avenger was the perfect complement for the Alpha-class Xg-1 Star Wing Assault Gunboat. Because of the hyperspace capability of both classes, they could arrive in a system at the same time, catching Rebel patrols by surprise. As the Avengers proved excellent at space superiority, this enabled Gunboats to concentrate on their intended roles, whether that be capturing craft or assaulting capital ships. Successful Avenger-Gunboat partnerships included the capture of Admiral Harkov and the seizure of Galactic Electronics' mag pulse weapons. Later, the TIE Defender would largely supplant the Avenger and Gunboat.