UNSC Navy tactical formations
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The UNSC Navy uses tactical formations within its fleets to arrange the deployment of their naval forces in engagements. UNSC naval formations generally consist of standard and specialist formations that divide warships within a fleet into battle groups, with standard formations occasionally being used to support specialist formations.
As the Human-Covenant War raged on in the mid-26th century, it became clear to the UNSC that engaging the Covenant in piecemeal fashion would not be enough to repel or hinder the empire's progress as the Covenant laid siege to the human colonies. In response, the UNSC Navy began to adopt new strategies and formations to an effort to turn the tide of the war, or at least lessen the loss of fleets and colonies.
The Arrowhead formation is a trio of Paris-class heavy frigates that emphasize MACs over missiles.
The Axe formation is an element that consists of four Halberd-class destroyers.
Guardian spirit formation
The guardian spirit formation is an element that consists of a Phoenix-class colony ship supported by one Marathon-class heavy cruiser on its left hand side.
The shield formation is an element that consists of four Paris-class heavy frigates.
The Trident formation is a trio of Paris-class heavy frigates that balance offensive measures between MACS and missiles.
Barrage Battle Group
The Barrage Battle Group is the informal designation for a specialist battle group formation that consists of a Marathon-class heavy cruiser supported by a pair of Paris-class heavy frigates. The formation served as a multi-purpose organization that could be assigned to a number of tasks, though most were formed specifically to hunt down Covenant raiders and deal with uprisings throughout the Insurrection.
Cerberus Battle Group
The Cerberus Battle Group specialist formation consisted of a pair of Marathon-class heavy cruisers. The pairing of two Marathon-class heavy cruisers provided a number of challenges for the UNSC. However, when maximum firepower was needed to combat the Covenant, the UNSC was reluctantly willing to pair up two heavy cruisers to deliver a long range torrent of death unto its enemies.
During the early stages of the Human-Covenant War, this battle group formation proved very effective against the Covenant's attacks, however the number of heavy cruisers in the UNSC's fleet began to dwindle as the war dragged on and the Navy was rarely able to field enough of them to counter large incursions. The combined power of both Marathon-class heavy cruisers' Magnetic Accelerator Cannons also made these formations priority targets to the Covenant during engagements. While the attrition rates within these battle groups proved to be appalling, UNSC fleet commanders considered the payoff worth the risk.
Cyclops Battle Group
All UNSC ships have a degree of operational flexibility through the use of modular mission packages and reconfigurable hangers. Through a rare configuration, Marathon vessels could be equipped as a light carrier, sacrificing missile reloads and all of its cargo bays for additional hanger capacity. The Cyclops Battle Group consists of one modified Marathon-class heavy cruiser and three groups of Paris-class heavy frigates in Trident formation.
Gorgon Battle Group
Marathon Heavy Cruisers were in short supply by the time Reach itself was being besieged, with even half-completed hulls providing desperately needed heavy MACs to naval squadrons. During the last years of the War it was common practice to pair Heavy Cruisers in order to pinpoint large, heavily shielded Covenant vessels and concentrate fire to quickly cripple them, giving the smaller UNSC ships a fighting chance against the somewhat more fragile Battlecruisers and Corvettes. The Gorgon Battle Group consists of two Marathon-class heavy cruisers supported by one Paris-class heavy frigate each and two groups of Paris-class heavy frigates in Trident formation.
Harpy Battle Group
Frigates were manufactured in large numbers during the Covenant War; cheaply constructed and operated with skeleton crews they could still bring down Covenant warships by operating in "wolfpack" formations and concentrating MAC fire. The Harpy Battle Group consists of three groups of Paris-class heavy frigates in Arrowhead formation and three groups of Paris-class heavy frigates in Trident formation.
Orthrus Battle Group
Though the YSS-1000 Sabre technically entered service in 2547, it proved to be too expensive to enter mass production given the loss of critical Inner Colony manufacturing hubs and shortage of skilled pilots. While these problems had been nearly resolved by late 2552, the Covenant arrival in Epsilon Eridani ended plans to replace select Broadsword squadrons with the new fighter. Had Reach remained unmolested the plan was to place Sabres aboard the remaining carriers first, then roll out the fighters to lead ships in the most experienced squadrons and battle groups.
Shield Wall Battle Group
The Shield Wall Battle Group is a specialist battle group formation consisting of three groups of four Paris-class heavy frigates arranged in shield formation. The primary role of the formation is to deliver an impressive series of Magnetic Accelerator Cannon rounds into the heart of an enemy fleet. As no capital ships are attached to a Shield Wall Battle Group formation to back up the smaller frigates, it is considered vital for the frigates in this formation to remain in reserve, ready to launch an attack when an enemy fleet moves within range.
The Shield Wall formation brings an additional Paris-class heavy frigate into tight proximity with its fellows, increasing the firepower and survivability of the formation as a whole. While this formation poses a larger drain on fleet resources, the Shield Wall formation gives the UNSC a stronger firepower focus, with less requirement to bring multiple vessels into battle groups.
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