Cylon raiders are attack fighters, used just like Vipers. They attack human targets and defend the Cylon basestar flagships. Up to four Model 0005 Centurions manned the original raiders. The new ones operate autonomously. Just like bulletheads, the new raiders contain living tissue.
Like Vipers, the new raiders can enter atmosphere, which is why their shape still includes wings. The new model’s far more bird-like, though. Some pilots call them “sparrows.” So far, this new model has come armed with kinetic energy weapons and conventional nukes. There’s also a heavy troop transport versions, called a heavy raider. Other configurations are likely.
During the attack on the colonies, raiders used wireless pulses to seize control of the Command Navigation Program. They used it to shut down battlestar and Viper controls, leaving them helpless in space. During the First Cylon War, old raiders used similar technology to infiltrate colonial computer networks and plant viruses.
The new raiders are also FTL-capable, allowing them to jump directly to the main Cylon fleet when they catch sight of the human survivors. Their FTL systems appear to be more accurate than their colonial counterparts.
In combat, the new raiders act more like animals than trained soldiers. They lack ingenuity but make up for it in sheer numbers and ferocity.