The TIE Oppressor was designed to serve as a light bomber that could also be utilized as a fairly maneuverable fighter, similar to the Alliance to Restore the Republic's BTL Y-wing starfighter. The design was an attempt to build a variant of the standard TIE hull that could carry heavy weapon payloads with sufficient armor and shielding to allow the ship to operate in the vanguard of an Imperial assault force. It also had enough solar array surface to assist in generation of the energy needed to power it all. All of the offensive and defensive equipment packed into the Oppressor came at the cost of space for engine installations.
Although most Imperial fighters were designed to have superior maneuverability, many TIE Oppressor pilots rated its capabilities as merely average. Its lack of dizzying maneuverability was a result of the fact that it mounted the same basic engine system found in earlier TIE starfighter models even though it had a much heavier and more bulky spaceframe. In return for the deficits in combat maneuvering capability, the Oppressor carried one of the most potent offensive and defensive packages fielded in any Imperial starfighter spaceframe. That being said, it was still fairly maneuverable compared to other equivalent bomber craft, and its relatively small size made it a more difficult target to hit.
While the TIE Oppressor was designed to primarily engage against capital ships, it also was more than capable of engaging enemy starfighters due to its size and very large missile capacity. When equipped with anti-starfighter ordnance, the Oppressor proved extremely deadly against even the most maneuverable starfighters. When performing in this role, many were equipped with powerful engines and boosters, allowing impressive speed.