The T.E.U. Lifter is a vehicle drop pod designed in the years leading to the Ascension Conflict. They are capable of dropping from orbit and deposited controlled Tiberium crystals onto the battlefield allowing for either the Global Defense Initiative or the Brotherhood of Nod to acquire the resource to bolster their sides in a conflict.
Behind the Scenes
The game developers had stated that for Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, they were moving away from the harvesting mechanic but found that the game community felt that Tiberium had an important element in the backstory and thus needed to be present in the game. They ultimately decided to have landing fields where crystals were dropped onto the field which can be collected by a player and used to bolster their resources. Alternatively, the crystal carrying unit can be destroyed and the aftermath can lead to the formation of an Ion Storm that devastates anything in the region.
The T.E.U. Lifter can be seen throughout the campaign and in skirmish matches. It is noted that in the tutorial campaign mission "Beginning Of The End", that a T.E.U. Lifter can be seen carrying a sort of jet engine during the first moments of the mission. It is later seen that in the GDI campaign mission "Cold Hard Truth", that the "jet engine" is actually a turbine for TCN Nodes. The only appearance that the T.E.U. Lifter makes in skirmish games is when it periodically drops down onto a Idris drop pad, leaving only a blue or green Tiberium crystal behind.