The Kig-Yar, referred by humans as Jackals, are a avian/reptilian species of the Covenant.

Overview and Background

Kig-Yar have features similar to that of birds of prey as well as reptiles. Their legs are sinewy and muscular, and are digitigrade in a similar fashion to birds. They have sharp claws on both hands and feet. Being carnivores, their jaws are lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth; some have far more numerous teeth which bear a passing resemblance to baleen. Kig-Yar have been known to eat the flesh of fallen enemies, as well as live prisoners. Kig-Yar have extraordinary senses of sight, hearing, and smell.

While Kig-Yar have hollow bones and are physically frail, they are capable of moving quickly to evade harm. Their blood is bright purple in color, similar to that of the Sangheili, possibly showing a similar chemical makeup. Despite the lack of calcium in their skeletons, the Flood still make use of them. Instead of being turned into a combat form, they are turned into a carrier form that differs from the grunt's form. The Jackal Carrier Form walks on all 4 legs, crawl on walls and ceilings, and can leap but at the cost of being more agile, they are weaker.

Rank Structure, Weaponry and Equipment

Rank Image Description
Covenant Special Operations
Special Operations Jackal
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Clad in black armour, these Jackal veterans are hand picked by the Special Operations branch of the Covenant for dangerous, high-profile missions alongside Spec-Ops Elites. Their heavy-duty point-defence gauntlets emit a white colour and can only be collapsed with an EMP. Spec-Ops Jackals were deployed during the final hours of the Flood Outbreak of Installation 04, and were issued with Brute Plasma Pistols, Shredders and Piercers to better combat the Flood.
Jackal Marksmen
Jackal Marksman Ultra
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Jackal Marksmen Ultras are the Covenant's champion long-range combatants, having perfected the art of sniping through their many years of combat experience. Equipped with a black combat harness, Marksman Ultras utilize helmets modified with an advanced targeting scope which emits a bright red glow. Typically reserved for rare occasions when the Covenant lose control of ground side operations, Marksman Ultras were only deployed during the Flood outbreak of Installation 04, taking advantage of the chaos and confusion to discard their issued weaponry in favor of Sniper Rifles scavenged from the battlefield.
Jackal Marksman Major
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Jackal Marksman Majors are more skilful sharpshooters who have greatly honed their accuracy with their continued service. Marksman Majors wear a black combat harness and can be identified by their modified helmet, which features a computerised scope that emits a bright green light. Their combat experience has taught them to move away from aggressive tactics in favour of Sniping/Suppressing targets, and are thus issued with Focus Rifles to facilitate this.

When faced with the Flood Outbreak of Installation 04, Savage Marksman Majors settled on using scavenged MA5E Assault Rifles, as the weapon's automatic mode of fire was closest to that of the Focus Rifle despite its reduced range.

Jackal Marksman Minor
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Jackal Marksman Minors are the lowest ranked Jackals specialising in long-ranged combat. Wearing a black combat harness, Marksmen Minors do not carry point-defence gauntlets, and are instead equipped with helmets with an on-board targeting scope which emits a purple light. Due to their relative inexperience, Marksmen Minors are issued with Particle Carbines which cater to their more aggressive approach to combat.

During the Flood Outbreak of Installation 04, Savage Marksmen Minors were forced to scavenge for working human weaponry, favouring their long-range, semi-automatic weapons such as the Battle Rifle and the Designated Marksman Rifle.

Jackal Infantry
Jackal Major
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Jackal Majors are more experienced then their lower ranks, often deployed in squads of Jackals/Grunts of equal or lesser rank. They wear a tougher, red-coloured combat harness and light helmets, Majors are issued with stronger point-defence gauntlets, with the colour indicating the weapon issued to the Jackal: Orange shields indicate the Major is armed with a Brute Plasma Pistol, while those carrying Purple shields wield Needlers like their Minor counterparts.
Jackal Minor The rank of Minor is the lowest field rank a Jackal can attain, and aretypically deployed in squads led by an Elite or Brute squad leader. Wearing a blue-coloured light combat harness, Minors carry a standard-strength point-defence gauntlet, its colour indicating the weapon being used: Jackals with Light-Blue shields are armed with Plasma Pistols, while those carrying Purple shields wield Needlers.

During the Flood outbreak of Installation 04, Savage Jackal Minors equipped themselves with weapons which closely matched what they were originally issued with: Jackals with Light-Blue shields are armed with M6G Pistols, while those carrying Purple shields wield Shredders or M7/S Submachine Guns.

Gameplay Information


Jackals are relatively frail and do not possess any full-body energy shielding, making all ranks highly susceptible to ballistic and headshot-capable weaponry.

Infantry + Spec-Ops

Jackal Infantry and Spec-Ops are equipped with a Point Defence Gauntlet on their right arm, which is capable of reflecting all forms of ballistic weaponry and can absorb a number of plasma bolts before collapsing. The strength of the shield is dependant on the Jackal's rank; a Major's shield being capable of absorbing more plasma than a Minor's before collapsing, while a Spec-Op's Shield is can absorb an indefinite amount plasma and can only be collapsed via an EMP. Jackal shields offer no protection from explosives or melee strikes, thus Jackals are virtually unprotected from these methods of attack.

While in combat, Jackals will typically hold their ground against the enemy by crouching behind their shields. While this defensive stance offers a great amount of protection from frontal attacks, it offers no protection for the sides and rear. Additionally, the shield emitted by the gauntlet possesses small cutaways on either side, allowing the Jackal to fire on enemies but exposing their hand in the process. Jackals will regularly try to better position themselves during engagements by performing combat rolls, and will sometimes retreat when their commanding officer has been killed.


Unlike Infantry, Jackal Marksmen are not equipped with Point Defence Gauntlets and are thus completely exposed to enemy fire. However, this is offset by how they're typically encountered from long distances and/or from elevated positions, including cliff edges, tall Forerunner structures and the sides of Phantom Dropships. While this initially makes them hard to spot on the battlefield, they can be easily pinpointed by the bright light emitted by the targeting scopes on their helmets. Additionally, the weapons they use leave visible trails when fired, which will give away a Marksman's position if they attack the player first.

Jackal Marksmen Ultras are armed with Sniper Rifles, which are always a two-shot kill on any difficulty; the first shot will complete drain the player's energy shields regardless of its strength, and the damage will not bleed into their health; the second shot will instantly kill the player. Despite this, Marksman Ultras will take long pauses between each shot, allowing the player ample time to move to cover. Additionally, a dim light will occasionally glint off of the Sniper Rifle's scope, indicating that the Marksman Ultra has locked onto you and is preparing to fire.


  • An EMP generated from the Plasma Pistol's overcharge shot and Plasma/Gravity Grenade detonations will immediately overload all Jackal shields within its vicinity, regardless of the shield's strength.
  • If you don’t want to waste an energy weapon's battery collapsing the shield, target the Jackal's exposed left hand through the firing cutaway with a headshot-capable weapon (Pistol and DMR work best because of the higher damage-per-bullet). This will cause the Jackal to momentarily stumble, leaving them open to a headshot if they were originally facing you.
  • A single grenade/shot from an explosive weapon is capable of taking out a large group of Jackal Infantry/Spec-Ops if placed correctly.
  • When fighting an individual Jackal at close range, you close the gap between you and it by moving forward from cover to cover and hit it with a melee attack. This will momentarily stagger the Jackal, allowing you to finish it off with either a high rate-of-fire automatic weapon or another melee strike (especially if the weapon is capable of dealing double melee damage).

Developer Information



  • The name "Jackal" comes from a wild dog that is similar to the coyote, and is a reference to their scavenger appearance and nature.
  • "Kig-Yar" is Breton for "chicken" and Phonetic Welsh for "chicken meat".
  • Unlike other members of the Covenant, Jackals shoot left-handed.
  • Jackal Marksmen Ultras were originally encountered earlier in the Campaign alongside non-Savage Covenant using the Binary Needler, however this idea was scrapped when the weapon was cut during development.


vde Covenant species in SPV3