Like other Synths, Gunships are living creatures that have been artificially altered and augmented with Combine technology. They are powered by an array of jet engines on their underside, and maneuver using a rear-mounted rotor with insect wing-like blades. Compound eyes that bear a close resemblance to those of a dragonfly are positioned directly behind the Gunship's pulse gun. In addition, the chassis itself has one large exposed compound eye on either side, which is assumed to be used to detect enemies under normal conditions. Like most Synths and vehicles, the gunship is invulnerable to small arms fire and can only be damaged by heavy weapons, such as rocket-propelled grenades. Because of this weakness to explosives, gunships will give any incoming explosives a priority over enemies and will attempt to shoot them down.
Although lacking the Hunter-Chopper's explosive mines and rockets, the gunship surpasses its aerial counterpart in maneuverability and accuracy with its pulse turret.
The gunship is generally deployed to attack enemies not normally accessible to ground forces, due to their dangerous actions or in remote locations where air power would be more convenient. In urban environments or when protecting highly important facilities, Gunships are deployed in what appears to be a buddy system, in which one Gunship protects the other from missile attacks.