A Directed Energy Weapon (or DEW) is a type of weapon that uses a non-solid projectile with a high enthalpy (kinetic and thermal) rather than solid ballistic ammunition. It transfers energy to a target for a desired effect. In the real world, some of these weapons are real or in development; others are, at present, only science fiction.
Lasers are used for a wide array of functions, ranging from repair equipment to weaponry. Pulse Lasers are standard armament on Covenant warships and, unusually, to UNSC prowlers, and are used for precision strikes against small targets, intercepting incoming missiles and fighters, and general point-defense. Other lasers are used to repair equipment by both the Covenant and the UNSC, while the only infantry-portable laser weapon is used by the UNSC, the Galilean Nonlinear Rifle or Spartan Laser.
Hard sound is used in specialized rifles used by assassins of the Office of Naval Intelligence, used in special assassination missions against political leaders and others who pose a threat to ONI. Hard sound kill their target instantly by obliteration their internal organs and by causing cerberal haemorrhage. It leaves no residue, or any traces, making it virtually untraceable in forensic investigations. It is very silent, making it useful in stealth.
- Main article: Plasma Weaponry
The Covenant's most common weapon type, however, is superheated plasma that is contained within a controlled magnetic field, able to be guided to a target and dealing heavy damage. Ship-mounted plasma weapons can launch torpedoes, capable of tracking their targets with precision, making them devastating in ship-to-ship combat, or can fire very large streams of plasma from afar to "glass" a planet's surface from orbit. Vehicle-mounted plasma weapons usually have a high rate of fire, but lack the guidance systems. Infantry weapons commonly use guided plasma, such as the Plasma Rifle, Plasma Pistol, and the Plasma Grenade.
Particle Beam Weapons
- Main article: Particle Beam Weapon
The Covenant also use accelerated particles as weaponry, such as the devastating capitol-ship mounted Energy projector and the infantry Type-50 Sniper Rifle System. These weapons use charged or neutral particles, and may appear similar to lasers though the differences are extensive. Though humans have an understanding of accelerated particle technology they have not yet used it for weaponry.
As of the early 21st century, humanity had developed particle accelerators, but the machinery needed to work one was massive.
Not much is known about this type of weapon other than it is exclusive to the Forerunners and shares traits from both plasma and particle beam weapons.
Many Promethean weapons are this type and have a tendency to disintegrate targets, and bounce of solid surfaces.
They are either gold-orange or blue in color.
- Main article: Hard light
Hard light weapons seem to be Forerunner exclusive weapons due to their sophistication being unparalleled to anything the Covenant has fielded. It is very similar to the Hard sound rifle in the way that they both use a hardened ammunition that normally (without being hardened) cannot damage an object.
A notable weapon that uses this type of ammunition is the LightRifle.