The afterburners adjust the ramscoop field by reducing its opening; drag is reduced and hydrogen gas is routed past the ship, which is captured by the field at the stern, and compressed to fusion. Acting like a secondary set of fusion engines, it gives 50% more thrust and almost 100% top speed. During that process however, no fuel is collected into the small fuel tanks of the fighter, and fuel is depleted rapidly.
Lighting the afterburners rapidly burns through fuel reserves. Using short bursts, instead of sustained burns, consumes less fuel and can be used as an alternative to regular thrust.
Usage of afterburners in dogfights, offense and tactical maneuvers can offer the advantage of irregular speed and unpredicatability. Afterburners are used in maneuvers such as slides and roll-and-turn.