- “Marines called them Spirits because they were death reincarnate. They'd come out of nowhere, without a word, and just start dropping Covies in our front yard.”— Lieutenant Tara Nguyen
The Spirit is a moderately large craft, similar in size to the Pelican dropship. Capable of powered flight and hovering, the dropship appears quite cumbersome and awkward to fly based on battlefield observations, but it has been known to reach speeds of 350 kilometers per hour while cruising and has a maximum speed of 1,099 km/h while in atmosphere. Spirits are angular, tuning fork shaped spacecraft with two parallel personnel bays along the exterior of each "prong." The Spirits are dedicated transports for infantry and vehicles. Each of these personnel bays has two doors that open and close vertically; however, they do not close fully and leave a small opening along the length of the bay. Between these extended personnel bays, an energy field fluctuates visibly as it generates the ship's anti-gravity propulsion (similar in appearance to the energy pulse of the "gravity lift" elevators the Covenant use to commute between the ground and the hovering ships). This same gravity-beam has been known to ferry Covenant vehicles, usually Ghosts, Wraiths and Shade turrets, or other small objects such as supply canisters for ground troops. As such it can only possess one defensive weapon, either a heavy plasma auto-cannon, or a light plasma mortar, beneath its main fuselage at a time.
While these dropships have life support for use in the vacuum of space, they do not have a Slipspace drive. In Halo: First Strike, a Spirit was modified with reinforced metal so it could be launched out of a ship already in Slipspace. Even with this modification, the Spirit became severely damaged after the exit and was still unable to travel into Slipspace on its own accord.
Halo: Combat Evolved
The Spirit is virtually indestructible in Halo: Combat Evolved.
The best tactic, if on lower difficulty levels, is to attack the vulnerable infantry (shoot or toss a grenade) as they disembark from the Spirit. On higher difficulties, this would be unwise; hiding behind cover until the ship leaves is often the best course of action in this situation. Without cover or good tactics, a careless player might die quickly. As well as being able to drop off a rather large amount of Covenant troops on the battlefield, the Spirit is also capable of providing heavy support in combat. When dropping off troops, the Spirit will be stationary in mid-air for a few seconds, before descending and opening its troop bay doors.
The Spirit in Halo Wars only appears on the campaign and cannot be used in multiplayer or Skirmish. It is used to deliver quite large amounts of troops on the battlefield, the dropship is quite fast, and quite resistant to damage: it is advisable that players should eliminate it before the troops it carries disembark. Once the troops are on the ground, it cannot be destroyed.
The preferred units for taking down an airborne Spirit are Wolverines, Hornets, and Hawks. Spirits in Halo Wars do not engage enemy targets and are only seen in the Campaign, mainly on the mission "Dome of Light." Spirits in Halo Wars utilize gravity lifts to deploy and pick up troops, rather than the side-mounted troop bay doors as in Halo: Combat Evolved.
The Spirit in Halo: Reach behaves similarly to its Halo: Combat Evolved incarnation. One significant change, however, is that of its firing operation, which now matches the behavior of the Phantom's plasma auto-cannon. Instead of simultaneously firing three bolts of plasma, it now sports a light plasma mortar, which is significantly more powerful but fires only one bolt at a time and at half the speed.
In games, Spirits appear in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo Wars, and Halo: Reach as the primary dropship of the Covenant. They do not make any appearance in Halo 2, Halo 3, or Halo 3: ODST, having been replaced by the sleeker, larger, heavier, and faster Phantom. In the novels, they are mentioned in Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: The Flood, Halo: First Strike, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Halo: Contact Harvest, and the Halo Graphic Novel.
It is not specifically known why the Spirit was removed from Halo 2 and 3, however it could be that the Phantom was in the process of replacing it as a newer model, or that the Phantom was preferred by Bungie.
- The Spirit is jokingly known as the "Tuning fork" among Bungie employees due to its shape. Marines in the Halo: Combat Evolved level Halo also use the same reference.
- For the same reference, a later chapter of Halo: Ghosts of Onyx refers to the ship being a "Tuning Fork" shape.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved, the Marathon logo can be seen on the front of the cockpit.
- In the Halo: Reach instruction manual, the Spirit is identified as the Type-28 Troop Carrier rather than the Type-25 Troop Carrier.
- The Phased Spirit Glitch in Halo: Reach causes the Spirit to may phase through the terrain.