"The Phoenix, for instance, is a lightning-fast aerial harass ship which, while small, packs a serious punch against any opposing unit lacking armor. Its Ion Cannons disintegrate flesh via short wavelength energy beams, and although they can only fire upon the air, they won’t hesitate to simply use their Graviton Beam to center a ground unit right in front of their crosshairs."
A deadly spacecraft designed for aerial harassment, the Phoenix is highly maneuverable, possesses great speed, and is able to outmaneuver almost any foe. In use by 2502, the Phoenix is rapidly replacing the older Scouts and Corsairs in the role of air superiority fighters for the protoss. Phoenix patrols are a common sight on the outer rim of protoss territory, where they sweep deep space for alien threats. A single Phoenix strike force can keep an enemy army pinned down even when vastly outnumbered. Phoenixes can be carried in carrier hangers.
The Tal'darim had incorporated the Phoenix into their arsenal by 2504. Despite their preference for overwhelming force, they understand the value of the need to be swift and deadly, which was why they kept a fleet of phoenixes stolen from the Templar.
While the Purifiers regularly favor their mirages, a fleet of automated phoenixes is retained by them should the mirage's phasing technology not be needed.
The Phoenix is propelled by a compact inertial drive, which surrounds the craft in a warp field, allowing swift displacement in deep space or planetary atmospheres. Twin high-power plasma thrusters supplement the drive, making the Phoenix a formidable interceptor craft. Additionally, an energy weave covers the Phoenix's wings, giving it an appearance akin to a circuit board. In reality, it is made out of light-reactive fibers that absorb, channel, and redirect all types of energy, including the pilot’s psionic input. The weave’s primary function is to maintain the coherence of the warp field that sheathes the Phoenix’s fuselage, and enhance the ship’s stability and maneuverability when banking, rolling, or sliding at high speeds.
The twin ion blaster armament of a Phoenix is highly suited for air-to-air combat, and pack a punch against foes lacking armor. Its main armament, the blasters disintegrate their targets through short wavelength energy beams composed of negatively-charged ions though can only be used against aerial targets. These cannons are designed to allow the Phoenix to fire while on the move, but their short wavelength limits the travel distance of each shot, as well as the damage caused to heavily armored targets. The cannons' effective combat range presented a problem until the protoss began to replace the old focusing lenses with the more advanced anion pulse-crystals.
When confronted by more dangerous enemies, a Phoenix pilot can unleash a short-lived gravity beam by overloading the ship’s warp field through its inertial drive. The result is a beam composed of anti-gravity, which turns its target into a near-weightless object, immobilizing it for a few precious seconds. However, this is at the cost of the Phoenix's mobility. The beam was originally concieved as a weapon of last resort, but has since been embraced by the Great Fleet as an effective control weapon.
In 2506, the phase-smith Karax used solarite to improve the power management systems of the phoenix. This allowed the phoenix to target multiple targets with its Graviton Beam, and to use the beam without diverting power from the phoenix's weapon or propulsion systems.
The following section contains information from a previous version of StarCraft II which is no longer valid.
Sophisticated and lethal as the Phoenix may be, all too often a patrol squadron will find itself heavily outnumbered by zerg or terran enemies. To overcome this weakness, phoenix pilots have developed a dangerous counter-ploy. A phoenix pilot can unleash a short-lived storm of destruction by overloading its warp field through the ship's ion blasters. The area-effect discharge is devastating and can destroy a large number of enemies at once, but it comes at a price: in the aftermath the phoenix is left temporarily powerless and crippled. Wary foes have learned to flee a phoenix overload and return moments later to destroy the helpless craft. In turn phoenix pilots have begun to use staggered discharges to catch their enemies in a web of destruction. These desperate tactics are frowned upon by protoss commanders, but have become tacitly accepted as a necessity.
In-game, the phoenix lacks a ground attack, but makes up for this with its graviton beam. It is important to note that targets affected by the Graviton Beam can be hit by anti-air weapons, including other phoenixes. The Phoenix can move and attack simultaneously which, combined with its high speed, makes it great for harassing fleeing forces. This also make the phoenix effective as an economy raider, using the graviton beam on worker units.
The phoenix is very good at destroying light air units, such as mutalisks (especially with the range upgrade). The upgraded range of a Phoenix is double that of a mutalisk, allowing for players to easily fly around mutalisks, scoring free hits without the mutalisks being able to retaliate due to their slower speed.
The Phoenix is an effective counter unit for vikings, banshees, and void rays. It is weak against strongly-armored battlecruiser, carrier, and corruptor. The phoenix is ineffective against the units it counters when outnumbered. However, it can makes up for this with its fast speed.
Lifts target unit into the air, preventing it from moving, attacking, or using abilities. While using this ability the phoenix cannot move or attack. One in effect can be cancelled early to end the effects.
The effect ends instantly if either the targeted unit or the casting phoenix is destroyed.
Burrowed zerg units will be unburrowed by the ability, and will reburrow when they fall back to the ground.
In the single-player campaign of Legacy of the Void, the phoenix no longer requires energy to use Graviton Beam, which instead has a thirty second cooldown. The phoenix is also able to move and attack after using Graviton Beam, and Graviton Beam can be set to auto-cast. The Aiur variant of the phoenix has the passive ability "Double Graviton Beam," which levitates an additional nearby enemy ground unit when the phoenix uses its Graviton Beam.
These enhancements overall make the phoenix a much more offensive and aggressive unit than before, with a small number of them able to incapacitate a substantial number of enemies and attack them while they are helpless. Compared to the other starfights in the compaign, the corsair and mirage, the corsair's disruption web is more useful for attacking enemy bases and controlling terrain, and the mirage is a more defensive unit.
The Phoenix can lift anti-air units like the queen with the Graviton Beam ability rendering them vulnerable and helpless against void rays or other Phoenix.
When grouped with void rays, the two ships complement each others' weaknesses and become a formidable fleet, with void rays firing at heavily-armored targets and ground targets while Phoenixes fire at poorly-armored targets.