United Nations Space Command Priority Transmission 101701W-33
Date: 1 August 2552 (Military Calendar)
Encryption Code: Red
Public Key: file /ONI Special Briefing
From: Lieutenant Commander Stephen Loftus, ONI Special Weapons Division R&D, Camp Hathcock, Reach
To: Major General Nicolas Strauss, Security Committee, Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), UNSC HighCom Facility B-6, Sydney, Australia, Earth
Subject: Covenant Weaponry and Materiel Report
General Strauss, the following classified briefing you requested is made possible due to the sacrifices made by brave UNSC men and women who have risked, and in some cases lost, their lives to retrieve weapons and materiel from ground engagements against the Covenant.
This briefing will evaluate the initial findings of our engineers and scientists who have been analyzing captured Covenant technology. We are hopeful the insights collected from this analysis will result in improvements in both offensive and defensive countermeasures against our implacable enemy in terms of both weaponry and armor.
This briefing is compiled from tests conducted on Reach by members of the Spartan-II program. (Our initial tests involved selected ONI specialists, but an unfortunate accident resulting in the deaths of three operatives deemed that the project be conducted by the superior armor and stamina of the Spartans. Those Spartans involved have been granted the proper security clearance.)
>>> Covenant Weaponry
> The weapons used by the Covenant seem to be wholly based around plasma technology. This will be a brief pass at the underlying mechanics as best we can describe it. As yet, we don't fully understand how all of the technology works. Several captured field units have been approved for dismantling and will be tested to destruction.
Plasma, as you know, is not only remarkable for its fantastic temperature, but also for its random and chaotic nature. For the Covenant to employ plasma as a ranged weapon, they have been able to encase and direct the plasma through the use of magnetic fields. This seems to be also true of their ship-borne weapons, based on repeated observations, but that is beyond the scope of this briefing. Covenant hand weapons seem to be powered by a contained charge; a battery of sorts. The charge in them is finite, and as yet, we have no way of recharging the cell. Also, we're not sure if the Covenant can charge the cells or if the weapon is outright replaced. (We don't suspect they discard a weapon after its battery is depleted, as UNSC forces currently do with Covenant arms appropriated on the battlefield, but we're not entirely certain.) Of the many weapons recovered, each with varying degrees of charge remaining, we've been able to extrapolate the energy of a full power core for most weapon types.
>>> Plasma Pistol
The Plasma Pistol, favored mainly by the lower rungs of the Covenant caste, namely Grunts and Jackals, is one of the first Covenant weapons ever encountered by our forces. The weapon measures 34cm in length, 6.4cm in width, and is 27.7cm in height. There appears to be two distinct firing modes for the Plasma Pistol. Pressure applied to what passes for a trigger results in a bolt of plasma being formed between two crystal emitters and then released. Plasma Pistol energy is typically in the 100kV range. Our engineers have successfully fired a bolt with a core power output as high as 150kV. They suspect it's the weapon's upper limit for a single plasma bolt. A single shot consumes about 0.5% of the Plasma Pistol's full charge capacity. The plasma bolt is made up of twenty distinct plasma spheroids held in suspension by a shaped magnetic field. The Covenant Plasma Pistol has an 'overcharge mode' as well. Depressing the trigger causes plasma to build up and charge, and then release as a single large packet of ionized superheated matter. (Our operatives noted the rapidly heated air around the Plasma Pistol when in the early phase of testing leading to minor skin burns.) This plasma overcharge has a somewhat unique feature, observed with only one other Covenant weapon, the Needler: a limited homing capability. When observations were conducted during firing tests, it was revealed that what was happening differently from the other weapons is that the magnetic sustainer field was being fired at its target prior to the release of the main charge and became 'locked' onto it. Then, mere milliseconds later, when the plasma left the weapon, it followed that field trajectory, from weapon to target. Spartans targeted by the Plasma Pistol that attempted to avoid the shot, discovered that the plasma would seem to home in on them. The overcharged shot consumes 15% of the total cell capacity per shot in the range of 1.5 mV. During repeated single shots, there's a recharge time of 0.6s. If too many shots are fired in succession, the pistol will overheat causing it to stop firing and cycle through a cooling stage.
>>> Plasma Rifle
The Plasma Rifle is simply a larger version of the Plasma Pistol in many respects. The principles regarding its operation are the same as for the Pistol, although the rifle does not seem to have the overcharge capability. This weapon seems reserved for more prominent races of the Covenant, namely the Elites. Even when discarded in battle, it's never been observed by ONI operatives or UNSC soldiers that a lower Covenant species will collect a Plasma Rifle on the battlefield, even if no other weapon is available. Perhaps it is considered taboo for the lower ranks to use their superiors' weapons and equipment? The Plasma Rifle measures 66cm in length, 17.8cm in width and has a height of 37.9cm. The rifle fires plasma in the same energy band as the pistol. While the Plasma Pistol tends to favor the lower limit of this energy band, the aforementioned 100Ôø‡150 kV range, resulting in a mostly green hue of plasma energy, the Plasma Rifle seems to operate closer to the upper range which shifts the plasma's visible energy wavelength into the blue end of the spectrum. The magnetic field-contained plasma is still comprised of twenty distinct packets of energy. So far tests do not reveal any plasma tracking capabilities. This weapon can be used in either a semi-automatic or a fully automatic fashion. If fired as an automatic weapon, the Plasma Rifle will overheat. There is an overheating indicator on the weapon's left side and if overheating occurs, the weapon stops firing and several compartments open to disperse the excess heat.
The Needler is a strange weapon for the Covenant...more unusual than their other small arms. The dimensions measured are 66.8cm in length, 20cm in width, and 60cm in height. This weapon is a conundrum of sorts. Its firing mechanism defies analysis and its crystalline projectile hasn't been chemically identified. What is known is that the explosive crystal shards the Needler fires have a similar homing quality to the Plasma Pistol's over-charge: a magnetic field locks a target in just prior to launch. We've recorded Covenant on the battlefield reloading a Needler with a small pink-purple faceted crystal. How the Needler processes this crystal mass into the individual quills that later emerge from the top of the weapon are unknown. The Needler can house twenty shards in a ready-to-fire chamber, and can fire between 3-10 rounds per second. Each shard, when fired, is energized, or rather over-energized, resulting in a relatively short lifespan. Analysis of a shard in flight has revealed that the shard itself is carried within a magnetic field. The shard will deflect off any hard, non-organic substance, but, as it has a finite existence, it will explosively shatter after a short time. When shot at an organic target, such as our Spartan test subjects, it homed in on them despite their being hermetically sealed within their armor. The Spartan struck by several quills lost shielding power as the needles exploded after embedding themselves into the armor. The explosion is caused when the energy in the shard is discharged. From reports of unarmored Marines and civilians unlucky enough to have been on the receiving end of a Needler attack, the injuries were almost always severe and in many cases fatal.
>>> Fuel Rod Gun
There are four known variants of the Covenant's Fuel Rod Gun, and hearsay of a fifth variant, as yet unconfirmed. The first known version of the Fuel Rod Gun is the cannon mounted on the arm of Covenant Hunters. Dead Hunters have been captured, but the weapon no longer functions. One Fuel Rod Gun variant that was documented in shipboard engagements has not been retrieved for analysis, but video footage has yielded the weapon's size and a few images. This second version is a hand-held weapon usually shouldered for stability and weight distribution. It is equipped with a "dead man's switch" causing the weapon to explode once the operator is killed or the weapon's fuel rods have been depleted, thus making analysis of this projectile weapon somewhat guesswork. The dimensions of this version are 174.6cm in length, 25cm wide, and 95.1cm in height. The third variant is a slightly smaller hand-held model that doesn't self-destruct. This variant's size is 113cm long, 17cm in width, and 62.2cm high. The weapons captured are in working order and have been field tested. The Fuel Rod Gun fires radioactive green crystalline projectiles that explode on contact. Repeated fire will cause the energy range to reach 2.5mV, as opposed to the 250-300 kV each fuel rod fires independently. It's not certain how energy is derived from the fuel rod ammunition, but a multi-spherized, packeted magnetic field sustains the fuel rod's trajectory. The third variant can house four fuel rods, where the second version, and purportedly the fifth hand-held version, contains five rods in a full clip. The fourth variant is the Fuel Rod Gun adapted for use on the Covenant Banshee aerial craft. A fuel rod measures 25.6cm in length with a 5.2cm faceted diameter. The Fuel Rod Gun has a damage radius of 4.6m at point of impact. As with many other Covenant weapons, there is currently no known way to reload a Fuel Rod Gun once the ammunition has been spent.
>>> Plasma Grenade
The Covenant Plasma Grenade is a spherical explosive 15.2cm in diameter. It is innocuous until primed. Once triggered, by pressing an imprinted symbol on its surface, it has an approximate three-second fuse before detonation. The damage radius is roughly 9.1m. A primed Plasma Grenade will begin to leak plasma. This leak is just enough that, if thrown at a vehicle or infantry, the plasma will start to burn into the surface and adhere to it until detonation. For the few unexploded grenades we've recovered, there has been a curious reluctance for them to stick to other organics, such as trees. Since we cannot find a way to safely dissect one, our technicians are not sure if an internal mechanism is responsible for this behavior or not.
>>> Plasma Sword
One of the most ruthless weapons encountered by UNSC forces is the Covenant Plasma Sword. It seems only high-ranking Elites wield these weapons believed to be as much ceremonial as utilitarian. An inactive sword handle has been recovered, but not a functioning plasma blade. From video analysis, the sword energy blade measures 126.5cm in length, 47cm in width, with a thickness of 9.1cm. The Elites seen carrying an activated Plasma Sword do not seem to be affected by the obvious heat such a weapon must generate. It is suspected that the magnetic field responsible for defining the shape the energy blade insulates the soldier from the intense heat of the plasma. It can be assumed that due to the extreme heat that matter in the plasma state creates, the Covenant sword can pretty much slice through almost any material; even the UNSC's strongest Titanium-A armor plating. The mechanism for activating the sword must lie in the handle, as sword-wielding Elites drop the sword when killed, and the blade deactivates. ONI has not been able to reactivate the two captured sword handles as yet. Our analysis of the sword and its properties lie in video footage taken from a UNSC AI infiltration of a Covenant ship's security systems showing activity in the cruiser's command center during a space engagement. There are reports of a slightly shorter variant of the Plasma Sword, but those reports are as yet unconfirmed.
>>> Shade Stationary Turret
The Covenant Stationary Turret is a tripod mounted below a moveable turret with a remarkable degree of targeting movement. The turret rides on a gravity beam, hovering several centimeters above the tripod leg mounts. The turret itself is almost identical in size and dimension to the plasma turret on the underside of the Covenant Dropship. The main difference is that the Shade version turret has an operator interface. The Shade emplacement measures 4.4m in length, 3.1m in width, and is 3.2m high. The plasma energy packets fired by the Shade are more energetic than those of any of the Covenant's hand-held weaponry. The plasma is fired in packets of three, and are self-contained as thee energy packets diverge with distance. The Shade's firepower is identical to that of the Dropship, both being ostensibly the same design internally.
>>> Active Camouflage
The most astounding advance found in the Covenant arsenal is a shield-like mechanism which renders near-invisibility. Although we cannot as yet duplicate this technology, it doesn't require any special equipment for it to be utilized. It requires a tremendous output of power to maintain, so the invisibility is very short term. It's an adaptive shield, for lack of a better description, which surrounds the wearer and refracts light in all directions. Our technicians are calling this effect active camouflage. In the few test conducted, it was easier to spot a moving subject utilizing active camouflage than a stationary subject. There is a single vulnerability that's been discovered thus far: a subject with active camouflage generates a heat signature that can be isolated with even simple infrared detectors. The invisibility shield units found in the field are characterized by a translucent pyramid with an energy spheroid encased within. Physical contact with the spheroid causes the energy to be released around the subject.
The Overshield is a piece of equipment that overcharges the shield system of the Spartans as well, presumably, the shield systems of the Covenant Elites. For the longest time our operatives who retrieved this item could not fathom its use. The Overshield cube had no activation feature nor did it seem to serve any known function. To armored Marines and ONI operatives, it was just unknown Covenant materiel. When the project was handed to the Spartans, and a Spartan touched the Overshield, the energy contained within distributed itself into the shielding system of the Spartan's MJOLNIR armor and overcharged the shielding power cells. The extra shield strength seemed to be long term. Repeated test-firing at the Spartan's shields caused the overcharge to drain, but the increase to the armor's shielding was at least 200%. This must only work with the Elite's shield systems in their armor, upon which the MJOLNIR armor is based.
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This concludes the overview of the Covenant arsenal to date. As most of the captured Covenant land and air support craft are being held at other ONI research facilities, the appropriate officer's will be briefing you on their discovered capabilities and specifications, and are thus beyond the scope of this briefing.
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