The history of power armor suits has many roots. At the end of the Petroleum Era many different nations were working on the concept of powered personal armor suits, for dealing with hazardous situations, and ultimately combat. A number of problems hindered this development, the most notable being cost and technological constraints. The first problem is by no means new, the first gen power armor prototypes were hundreds of millions of dollars of largely wasted funds, producing no usable results, and basically learning how to not make power armor. The second was much more the culprit, as the technological advances required for power armor had not yet been broken.
This lead to several stopgap measures. Most failed and were forgotten as the Resource Wars heated up, and the only thing more expendable that military hardware was military personnel. Those wars were often fought initially as high tech high mobility engagements, but most ended looking more like World War I stalemates between meatgrinder armies facing each other. The cost in terms of human life cannot be calculated due to the amount of time that has passed, and the fragmentation of existing records of the time. Eventually, the population contraction came into effect, and suddenly men were worth more than machines, and it became worthwhile to protect the soldier so that he could fight another day.
The Eurasian Alliance infamously created the Mattress Suit, a basic set of non-powered combat armor that featured thermoablative padding over a ferroplastic subframe. The suit offered modest protection from energy weapons, and minimal protection from kinetic and concussive damage. Also known as Maxis (as in MaxiPad) Paddies, Goofs, the soldiers who used this armor had a high rate of death and injury, and the armor was deeply unpopular.
The Atlantic Federation did little better, using a sandwich of thermoablative padding under literal plates of hardened steel. These Federation clanker suits were heavy, offered only modest protection at best, and in many instances, the suits were a liability. More than one Federation infantryman was killed because the metallic portions of his armor was heated to lethal temperatures by low intensity lasers, or by being caught in a radioactive event and the armor becoming hot.
Nippon was busy working out reflexokinetic materials, and were on their way to creating encounter suits, which would become very important decades later.
Cascadia, with it's tech industry buried under redwood forests and glacial sounds, made the real progress on the front of power armor. Their first successful system was the rudimentary C-915 suit. The C-915 used an ultralight frame to support ferroplastic plates, and the wearer was protected from the plates by a sandwich of impact resistant padding, and lamellar scale. The C-915 saw fewer than a dozen suits produced before it was approved, and then sent back to the manufacturing consortium that created it. It was supplanted by the C-925, and C-935, which improved the design and material the plates were made of, streamlined the chassis, and made general improvements in power management, logistic support, and ease of use.
The C-935 and the P-45 Panther
The C-935 was the final production series of the Cascadian Complex, and was later adopted by several other allied nations, most notably, the Atlantic Federation. The Federation reworked the armor plates, increased the size of the frame and, and doubled the cost of the unit. It was redesignated the P-45 Panther, and put into heavy service. The P-45 would be the Federation's first serious power armor suit, and the most widely produced, with tens of thousands manufactured. The production was such that the Pacific Rim Coalition found it cheaper to buy Federation P-45s rather than make their own.
The C-945 Chaparral was almost piece for piece a P-45, but the C-945 had different software, an alternate power supply system, and added an integral SmartGun system, where the P-45 relied on the trooper's ability to aim their own weapon. The C-945 also had a slightly modified internal frame, allowing it to be more easily used by women, not just men.
A New Life for the C-935
While power armor started growing, with the P-45 Panther and its descendants blazing new paths, the C-935 found a new life, and created its own niche. Power Armor remained expensive, and logistics intensive. Certain interested groups liked the notion of the C-935 as something less than a fully articulated suit of armor, but more than the currently available conventional combat armor.
Three new suits were born from the C-935 and all can trace back to it directly, or indirectly. The Pacific Rim Coalition created a direct decedent in the R-303 Recon Armor. This suit adopted Encounter suit technology from Nippon, and added the thermoablative sandwich armor from the C-935, and a number of light weight ferro-ceramic plates in specific locations. This armor had a few augmented sections where myomer strands were worked into the material, allowing the suit to assist in the wearer's strength and endurance, so long as it had power. The R-303, or Black Dragon suit was popular among PRC commando forces, who generally had no use or interest in power armor or mecha.
The Atlantic Federation borrowed a production version of the R-303, renamed the P/L-30 Raven and this was used extensively by AtFed Commandos, and AtFed Intelligence agencies. There was a strike version of the P/L-30, designated the P/L-30X Spectre that required the wearer to be a parapsychic to make full use of it's capabilities. The existence of the P/L-30X is a contested issue and the AtFed has no official statement about the Spectre, it's users, the agencies that employ them, and what they have done.
The most common variant of the C-935 is the now infamous Cabal suit.
The Cabal suit was pioneered by the Brotherhood, stolen from EuroZone polyforges. The new suit was reskinned, and downgraded for easier production and ease of maintenance. The suits replaced the fancy ferro-ceramics with whatever armor the wastelanders could cook up. This made the reinforced recon armor easy to disguise, and allowed wasteland war fighters to survive longer in combat, as well as carry larger weapons. This relatively minor change made it where more and more wastelanders and zealots survived their first real combats, and were able to gain experience by simply surviving.
Roughly two thirds of all existing reinforced recon suits are wastelander variants.
This has made the suit easy to procure, and it is popular, modular, and easy to accessorize.
Reinforced Recon Armor is a stopgap between advanced infantry armor and power armor suits, the trade off being cheaper and less effective than said armor suits, but more effective than strap on armor.
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? Responses (1)
Like reading a Cosmic Era Wikipedia entry on military equipment. That is a good thing. And I would know, I often have to do that for my job and Wikipedia is, surprising, more up to date and accurate than many military webpages. :)