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The Archer missile is a ship-to-ship missile used by the UNSC Navy.
Warships usually carry large numbers of Archer missiles to complement their Magnetic Accelerator Cannons. Archer pods usually carry around two dozen missiles each; frigates and destroyers carry thirty pods, though larger ships carry more pods, sometimes hundreds. While individual Archers are vulnerable to point-defense weapons and have limited destructive potential, their sheer numbers make up for their lack of individual effectiveness. Covenant shield technology can withstand large numbers of Archers, though unprotected ships can be destroyed by Archer missile strikes to the hull and superstructure.
The UNSC Infinity is armed with 350 pods of twenty-four M42 Archers for a total of 8,400 Archers. These are supplemented by 250 pods of thirty M75 Rapier missiles for a total 7,500 missiles and 500 pods of twenty M96 Howlers for a total of 10,000 Howlers.
The M58 Archer is the preferred model of missile for the UNSC Navy, with most models of frigates and at least two classes of cruisers mounting these as their supplemental anti-ship weapon system. The number of individual devices per pods varied: the UNSC Pillar of Autumn was armed with twenty-four M58 Archers per pod as part of its refit for Operation: RED FLAG,, while the UNSC Commonwealth had thirty missiles in each pod instead.
Prior to the Human-Covenant War, the UNSC found the missiles to be effective against Insurrectionist combatant ships. A single Archer missile was capable of crippling all but the largest of UNSC ships. Against the Covenant, however, they realized that the defensive measures employed by the enemy ships such as energy shields and point defense lasers suddenly rendered Archer missiles near-obsolete - lasers were able to pick off up to half of the missiles launched, and those that hit were rarely enough to penetrate the shields. At least one Covenant ship class, the DAV-class light corvette, possesses jamming measures that interfere with the guidance systems. Tactics were developed to counter this, using the more devastating but slower-firing Magnetic Accelerator Cannons to break through the shields, rendering the hulls vulnerable, but on the whole Archers proved to be ineffective weapons against the Covenant. Smaller ships, such as boarding craft or fighters, are much easier targets, and Archers may be used in support of ground forces, launched from orbit to strike a ground-based target.
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