Datasphere Catalog: Armor-Suit

The armor-suit is a class of heavy, hermetically-sealed, all-environment protection system used by the Confederated Marines, Hegemony Shock Marines, Reach law enforcement, regional military outfits, and mercenary units who provide ground force services. Though it is referred to as a "suit" in reference to its development lineage, which traces back to hazardous environment vacsuits developed during the Age of Expansion, the armor-suit of the 30th century is more vehicle than attire, massing four to seven hundred kilograms even before the mass of weapons, ammunition, and operator are added. These suits feature articulated, servo-powered limbs which move with the wearer, making them behave lightly and deftly despite their bulk. Though the most well-known armor-suits are the distinctive Vasilev Robotics RI05, RI13, RI22, RI35, and RI44 "Rico" suits used by the Confederated Navy, Confederated Marines, and Hegemony Shock Marines, several manufacturers produce armor-suits for sale to local militaries, police, and mercenary buyers, including the industrial giants D'Sousa Systems, Jie Yu Industries, and Cardona Multiphase Assembly. Where armor-suits are referenced but no manufacturer is specified, a Vasilev armor-suit is generally assumed - an older surplus model in civilian service, and a newer model in military use. In general, an armor-suit operator is referred to as a trooper, whereas a soldier with lighter equipment is referred to as an infantryman. This term "trooper" historically refers to cavalry troops, and reflects the main role of armor-suited heavy units in a combined arms battle, especially in groundside operations - armor-suited troopers use their suits' all-terrain mobility and relative durability for flanking and encirclement maneuvers, high-speed assaults, and so on. --- Design And Configuration --- An armor-suit is intended to provide protection against both inclement conditions and light enemy fire, improve battlefield mobility both in vacuum conditions and planet-side engagements, and expand the amount of firepower controlled by a single experienced soldier. Though not as durable as a full-scale armored fighting vehicle, an armor-suited trooper is much more mobile, especially in difficult terrain, and is just small enough to navigate most shipboard corridors and participate in boarding actions effectively. Armor-suits are restricted in size by two factors. Firstly, their dimensions are limited by the confines of standard personnel-scale airlocks, which armor-suits need to transit for boarding operations. Secondly, they are designed to give the operator enough mechanical leverage to move the suit - albeit slowly - in the event of total onboard power failure, even in standard gravity. This also influences the choice of weaponry on armor-suits - because their barrels are lightweight frames that can be telescoped or folded when not in use, railguns are the most common weaponry on general-purpose armor-suits. Though an armor-suit operator has only a very narrow faceplate made of thick armor-glass with which to see the world outside the suit, a sophisticated array of microcameras and sensors throughout the suit's exterior plating provide all-around vision, thermal imaging, radar, and sound detection. This information is accessed through the use of an onboard computer and holographic heads-up display projected in front of the operator's eyes. Most armor-suit designs are highly modular, capable of swapping out weapons, sensors, thrust systems, and other peripheral hardware to suit particular mission profiles and user preferences. --- Trooper Training --- Though designed to be as user-friendly as possible without sacrificing capability, a combat armor-suit is still a very dangerous weapon system capable of damaging both the operator and his surroundings. The standard Confederated Marine certification course for the armor-suit is several months long, and it is the shortest certification program available in the Reach only because it comes sandwiched between grueling physical training and tactical training courses within the same training regimen. Most Navy personnel who wish to certify in armor-suits engage in a year or more of simulator training before they ever don a live suit. Because of the need for muscle strength to move the suit's limbs and weapons in the event of total onboard power failure, armor-suit troopers tend to be physically large, powerful human specimens, and almost invariably men. Even when every system is functioning perfectly, combat in an armor-suit is a physically demanding task, as force put into the control harness is used by the suit's computer to calculate how much force to output. Armor-suit combat is an entirely human profession. No Atro'me has ever been successfully certified in armor-suits due to their less robust physical frames, and no effective armor-suit has yet been devised to fit around a Rattanai's larger, denser physiology while still permitting egress through a standard personnel hatch. --- Failsafe Measures --- Despite the incredible mass of an armor-suit, the suit is designed to counterbalance its own weight both to reduce wear on the powered joints and to permit the operator to move the suit even without the benefit of these powered joints in case of damage or equipment failure. Internal escape systems also allow a user to exit even a totally crippled suit without the aid of power, though doing so in the total vacuum of space is not advisable. An armor-suit is also built in with stops preventing the limbs from damaging other parts of the suit when swung at full force - for example, if a green Marine forgets his suit and snaps a hand up into a traditional salute of a superior officer, the heavy articulated hand at the end of the suit's arm will hit mechanical stops before it smashes his helmet in. The operator's control harness provides considerable padding against shock and gee-force injuries sustained during combat operations, but unlike most military aircraft and light combat spacecraft, no inertial isolation system is generally installed in armor-suits. (Art by Nicodemus Yang-Mattisson.)

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