The Halberd-class destroyer (hull classification symbol: DD) is a much-liked warship model that has been used by the UNSC throughout the Human-Covenant War. Replacing the old and tired destroyers which predated the Insurrection, the Halberd-class quickly became the standard by which all destroyers are measured against, introducing many conventions that would become an expectation of the entire classification. It was the first ship-of-the-line to be armed with a second Magnetic Accelerator Cannon, and held the record for the thickest hull ever mounted on a destroyer. In spite of this, the Halberd is reasonably fast and maneuverable, and has a modular hull which allows for minute changes for different roles. Its only fault came from the lack of room for ground-based support - however, its balance between speed, durability, firepower, and above all cost-effectiveness. All these strengths allowed it to become a mega-hit, becoming by far one of the most numerous military vessels in the entire UNSC Navy.
The Halberd-class destroyer was first introduced in 2517, when SinoViet Heavy Machinery won the contract to manufacture the UNSC's next-generation fleet of destroyers. Operating in rapid-response units led by the Marathon-class heavy cruiser, they would quickly become synonymous with the UNSC's military might. Once the Covenant began their genocide against humanity, the Halberd would become one of the UNSC's most abundant defender, their arrowhead silhouette becoming an icon of the Human-Covenant War. Despite their solid construction and capabilities, the sheer technological superiority of Covenant weaponry led to these ships suffering some of the highest casualties of all vessels used by the UNSC Navy. Very few Halberds would survive the war, and while they continued to serve, they would largely be supplemented and replaced by the Hyperion-class destroyer.
"My team weren't designing a ship; we were designing the future of the UNSC."
―Dr. Johannes Rafferty, during a press release.
The origins of the UNSC's most successful line of destroyers lies in 2511. The UNSC Gorgon had proven itself time and time again to be a game-changer in naval operations, displaying a level of firepower and reliability that no other ship has ever exhibited before. Despite this, the Gorgon was not without its issues. Its design borrowed heavily from the old Diligence-class destroyer, which, as proven by the lead ship's experiences against the Bellicose, was simply not manoeuvrable enough to make its MAC effective against smaller threats. As a result, the UNSC admiralty recognised early on that entire new ships were needed to make full use of the revolutionary weapon system. Seeing their previous endeavour had resulted in a refit of the adaptable Charon-class frigate, the UNSC released another competition for a well-armoured destroyer equipped with two MACs. It was required for all designs entered to be a generalist ship that is effective against targets of all sizes and is capable of participating in escort and assault operations. They also stressed that the new ship had to be cheap and require only a small amount of manpower to operate.
The final conceptual sketch of the destroyer.
As expected, SinoViet Heavy Engineering would jump on this competition, placing Doctor Johannes Rafferty in charge of the development of the new destroyer. Although not the oldest or most experienced person within SinoViet's design division, Rafferty held a reliable history with his most recent success being the Orion-class assault carrier. However, he was forced to work with up-and-coming engineers he had never worked with before, as Rafferty's previous team had been reassigned to other projects or lobbied for heightened influence in the corporation. As a result, Rafferty's team was directionless and divided, taking different paths on how the final product should look and perform. These issues would be seen throughout all of 2511, although fortunately he had enough experience with the strengths and weaknesses of those below him. This meant that once he decided on the final specifications and design brief, he divided up the work based on how it suited each of his subordinates' skill sets.
Development would not finish up until 2514, with the last section being finished up is the very front. This portion changed from the characteristic pylon from the standard frigate to a far better-protected arrowhead structure that would become iconic with the class. With the blueprint finalised by Rafferty, the plans were handed over to the primary SinoViet manufacturing facilities above Reach for fabrication. The prototypes were constructed under the careful watch of Senior Engineer Cosima Daniell, and none of the upcoming ships suffered any delays during their construction.
The original prototype christened the Halberd was launched from its drydock on July 28th, 2515, and was sent to the UNSC Navy for evaluation. The evaluators discovered that the submitted Halberd-class was not only cheap and easy to man, but it was an effective warship by itself. These qualities saw the UNSC Navy contracting SinoViet to produce 1,340 destroyers to bolster their fleet.
An annotated layout of the Halberd-class destroyer.
Stockier yet somehow more compact to many other light-tonnage ships after its introduction, the Halberd-class' hull structure has more in common with larger ships. Its sloped bow, for example, is clearly reminiscent of the Orion-class assault carrier, while its stocky design is born from larger cruisers. This maximises its reactor volume and increases its structural integrity at the cost of additional mass. In fact, this focus on protection permeates through the entire destroyer's design; while it does have some obvious design oversights such as the vulnerable position of its bridge and hangar, its missile silos, engines, escape pods and crew segments are all hidden behind protruding slabs of armour. This makes them less vulnerable at most angles and means that certain sections can be protected with a minimal change in the destroyer's course.
At the very front of the Halberd is its primary communications and sensory equipment. Containing a variety of antennae and lens for identifying and processing information at various ranges, these are obvious targets and vulnerable; as a result, most of this equipment is able to be retracted into the hull during close combat, only emerging for calibrating targeting solutions or after the threat has left. Just above this and still on the forward 'face' are the two barrels for its MAC battery. Interestingly, it is possible to tell which block a particular ship is from, as the organisation can either have the two MACs placed horizontally or stacked on top of each other, with even the barrel tips being different from block-to-block. As these are key to the majority of the Halberd's firepower, massive slabs of Titanium-A battleplate line the bow's sides and top. The bottom is reinforced, but this is covered over with state-of-the-art gravity generators which are capable of de-accelerating dropships and fighters from astonishing speeds. Taking over the bottom half of the bow is a modestly-sized hangar which holds two pelican dropships. A tactical operations centre is fitted within the centre of the hangar segment, with a battle network relay mounted on the bottom that assists in the coordination of planetside assets. The end of the hangar merges directly into the well-armoured Marine barracks, which includes everything from their cryobays and recreational areas to live-fire ranges and simulation pods for pilots.
The bridge of a Halberd-class.
Sitting at the very top of the destroyer is the main command bridge. The bridge is arranged in a u-shape, with a recessed centre floor segment which has either a holotable or command chair, depending on the captain's preference. Each of the monitors on the ceiling are dedicated to monitoring broad statistics of the ship's performance, with specific reports capable of being beamed to the commander's neural interface for private reading.
Unlike frigates and corvettes, the Halberd-class destroyer is intended for one purpose only; combat. Its well-rounded weapons are effective against both large warships and agile corvettes, and while some have criticised its lack of adequate close-in weapon systems, it can still reliably shoot down heavier forms of space fighters. Because of this, it sees extensive use as an escort ship and enjoys a symbiotic relationship with frigates and corvettes; while they clear the skies of missiles and strikecraft, the Halberd moves in to deliver high-impact punches against similar-sized vessels and tank the inevitable return-fire. These destroyers also excel in coordinated efforts alongside other Halberds; working together, often in groups of three, these warships can adequately support each other and use their agility for their size to evade fire while delivering steady and regular damage. In these instances, they can act in short-lived 'hunter-killer' mission sets, pursuing opponents as they are fleeing and quickly finding and destroying them before they leave sensor-range.
Outside of combat, this model of destroyer can fulfil a variety of other roles. Despite being smaller, their modular superstructure allows them to be outfitted with an oversized command bridge suited to coordinating other ships in their flotilla. This ensures they can take up the mantle of frigate leaders.
In the standard configuration, the Halberd's only real contribution outside of combat duties is medium-range reconnaissance, as it lacks much in the way of endurance. Fortunately, its superstructure is modular and can be easily reconfigured at a large-enough drydock to meet the needs of specific jobs. It can be outfitted with the likes of larger cargo-bays for replenishing the consumables of stations and assault groups or be equipped with more advanced sensors for searching for hostiles in contested systems.
Built by Diadel Systems of Chi Rho, the Beagle-class destroyer is a short-lived line of unusual carrier-destroyers built during the waning years of the Insurrection. Capable of transporting larger numbers of aircraft and troops than conventional Halberd-class destroyers outfitted for the task, it was supposed to be designed as a budget carrier that can also dually hold its own in combat against a variety of other warships. Unfortunately, it was cancelled shortly after it was found to counter-compete with SinoViet's own Charon-class light frigate, although those created continued to serve in the troop-carrying roles the UNSC placed them in.
While still retaining the same profile to the ship it spawned from, and indeed shares many of the same components as the base model, up close it has some noticeable differences. The entire bow section has been redesigned, with the arrowhead upper portion reduced in size. This is because both the MACs stacked on top of each other - rather than side-by-side on later Halberd-class destroyers - have been replaced with miniaturised 27M11R6/MACs. While they cannot match the power of the regular MACs, they make up for this with a higher firerate and crucially can launch support packages such as supplies and long-range drones. The forward hangar has been enlarged to allow it to fit two floors, the bottom storey used for ferrying pelicans and ground vehicles, with the upper storey being used solely for aircraft, with the space fighters leaving through airlocks on either side. In total, the Beagle-class destroyer is capable of carrying more than two companies of UNSC Marines alongside dozens of vehicles and supplies to support. Although upgraded with light naval autocannons and point-defence guns, it carries far less ship-to-ship missiles and so cannot defeat targets that a regular destroyer can.
Superstructure and hull
Propulsion and Powerplant
The aft of the Halberd.
As with nearly every other starship released during the Insurrection, the Halberd-class destroyer is primarily propelled by four large fusion drives and the four flanking secondary exhausts, with actual power provided by two identically-impressive fusion reactors. These two systems easily meet the energy requirements necessary to run the destroyer's systems and propel it through space, so much that it leaves many comparable vessels in the dust. Both of these systems rely on fusing Deuterium fuel in a reaction mass, but for different means; whereas the reactors fuse and break apart to solely generate usable energy, the drives use the immense forces present to fire out propellants at extremely-high velocities.
The twin reactors are both purpose-built V5/Medium-grade Deuterium fusion reactors, abbreviated to V5/M-DFR. Manufactured by the SinoViet-owned subsidiary Naoto Technologies, these reactors are designed for high performance over fuel efficiency. They are designed with four individual sphere chambers with a fifth located in the middle of this cage, each being self-contained with their own supply of Deuterium but are usually opened up to each other to increase efficiency. While this setup is unable to match the power or efficiency of a reactor with only a single chamber, it increases the rate they can shift their output, minimising the period in which the destroyer is vulnerable to ambushes. In theory its also much more resilient in combat, which is unfortunately offset by Naoto's decision to leave the safety features and ceramic thickness to a minimum.