Point-defense gun

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The Pillar of Autumn using its CIWS in Halo Legends: Origins.
A Halcyon-class light cruiser firing its point-defence loadout upon inbound Covenant boarding craft.[1]

Point-defense weapons are a classification of weaponry used on military spacecraft, and occasionally on ground installations. They serve as a primarily defensive tool for the spacecraft in question, and are designed for shooting down incoming projectiles (such as debris or missiles) and strikecraft. They may be used in a limited role for engaging enemy warships, though their smaller scale means they are less effective in this role than larger, more dedicated heavy weapons.

Point-defence weaponry is found on both human starships and Covenant starships, and serve in broadly the same roles - though with vastly different operating principles.

Human point-defense[edit]

For humanity, the vast majority of point-defence weapons are Magnetic Linear Accelerators (MLAs)[2] - typically coilguns - firing fully-automatic streams of high-velocity projectiles at inbound targets.[3] They are generally mounted on warships of the UNSC Navy and CMA Navy in vast "point-defense networks"[3] consisting of dozens of individual guns spread across the ship with overlapping fields of fire to cover all potential approach vectors. An exception to this is fittings alongside a ship's Magnetic Accelerator Cannon system; the constant magnetic bursts of the coilguns may interfere with a MAC and risk the ship's operation in combat.[4]

These weapons are fully-automated due to requiring reaction times faster than those capable of any human, instead controlled by a starship's given controlling artificial intelligence ship director. The automated systems calculate firing solutions in the heat of battle and are able to rapidly reorient the guns to fire at newly-acquired targets.[5][3] Without an AI to control point-defence systems, a ship is as good as defenceless against inbound threats[6] - though manual control may be surrendered to a human operator if absolutely necessary.[7] In extremely special cases such as that of UNSC Pillar of Autumn in Operation: RED FLAG, a vessel may even equip a secondary backup AI solely to handle point-defence, with the primary smart AI freed up for other more specialised tasks.[4]

Exceptions to the MLA paradigm include the Scythe series of close-in weapon systems (particularly the M71 Scythe used for defending ground bases) and the Streak missile - a series of small, mass-deployed missiles which can be used to track down and intercept inbound munitions. Some more recent additions to the fleet of the UNSC Navy have additionally begun to experiment with the integration of laser point-defence systems - particularly the Winter-class prowler and Anlace-class light frigate.

List of human point-defense weapons[edit]

Magnetic Linear Accelerators
Conventional ballistic weapons
Energy weapons

Covenant point-defense[edit]

The point-defence systems used by the military spacecraft of the Covenant and its splinters differ greatly from their human counterparts. Rather than firing projectiles to intercept inbound threats, they instead operate as directed-energy weapons of various kinds - using plasma and lasers to destroy their targets.[8]

Covenant point-defence weapons can be broadly classed into two weapon classes; plasma beam lasers and pulse laser turrets. While broadly similar in principle, they have significant operational differences; a plasma beam laser is fires a continuous beam of plasma at its targets, able to pick out and destroy dozens of targets in short order. By comparison, a pulse laser has a relatively low rate-of-fire and fires in multiple repeated bursts to accurately pick off inbound targets - though repeated strikes on the same area can also be used to breach the exterior hulls of enemy warships if needed.[8]

Outside of the aforementioned examples, the Covenant may use rapid-fire plasma cannons in a role comparable to human MLAs for defending ground installations; the twin rapid-fire heavy plasma cannons of the Upisa'weri-pattern Shrike or the rapid-fire explosive plasma bolts of the anti-air variants of the Preksheda-pattern Shade and Bmur'resh-pattern Shade turrets can be used in a CIWS role to great effect against enemy aircraft.


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Halo Legends - Origins
  2. ^ Halo Encyclopedia (2011 edition), page 315
  3. ^ a b c Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition) - Human Spaceships, page 111-133
  4. ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach, chapter 29
  5. ^ Halo: Warfleet, page 18-19
  6. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, chapter 21
  7. ^ Halo: Fireteam Raven, campaign level Escape
  8. ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition) - Covenant Spaceships, page 260-271