Hardened Armor is a thicker armor type that uses multiple overlapping plates to provide additional protection against enemy fire. Though capable of diverting more damage than standard armor, the increased number of armor plates and their lack of flexibility makes any unit employing it more difficult to pilot, and can affect the speed as well. In fact, Hardened Armor is so heavy that it cannot be mounted on hovercraft, VTOLs, or WiGE vehicles.
Development of Hardened Armor began in 3045 with the Federated Commonwealth. Though prototype armors entered service in 3047, the multiple drawbacks of the armor prevented widespread adoption. The Clan Invasion increased pressure on manufacturers to create viable Hardened Armor but despite their best efforts creating armor that provides increased protection without compromising performance remains impossible.
Clan Ghost Bear seized several examples of Hardened Armor and their Scientist and Technician Castes have created their own version. However, to the Bear's dismay the heavy plates preclude the armor from being used on OmniMechs. This means that only standard BattleMechs can benefit from the increased armor protection. By 3090, the armor would enter limited mass-production becoming more wide spread by the 32nd Century.
The final drawback to Hardened Armor is its cost: 15,000 C-Bills per ton. This has restricted its use to prototype vehicles and 'Mechs.
Hardened Armor provides eight points of protection per ton. Though this is half the protection of standard armor, each point of Hardened Armor can absorb two points of damage. As the armor is thicker and provides better protection, checks for a penetrating critical hit have a -2 modifier, essentially requiring a 10 or higher for a critical hit.
Hardened Armor also provides better protection against special armor piercing weapons: Armor-Piercing autocannon ammunition, Tandem-Charge Missiles, and BattleMech Tasers all have their armor-piercing properties nullified. When these weapons hit a location protected by Hardened Armor, they act as standard weapons hitting standard armor (AP autocannon ammo acts as a standard AC round; Mech Tasers inflict a point of damage, and TC missiles act as standard SRMs).
Hardened Armor is bulky and less flexible than standard armor. Combat Vehicles and 'Mechs that mount Hardened Armor suffer a +1 Piloting Skill Roll Penalty. In addition, 'Mechs that mount Hardened Armor have their Running MP reduced by 1, though this reduction in speed can be avoided while using Patchwork Armor construction rules by not putting any Hardened Armor on the legs. However, Patchwork Armor is not tournament legal.
- Reinforced Structure
- The Reinforced Structure serves a similar purpose to Hardened Armor, and functions in a similar fashion, doubling the mass of the mech's internal skeleton in exchange for doubling the amount of punishment it can take. While it cannot mount additional armor, it does make critical hits less likely.
- Modular Armor
- Modular Armor also serves to increase the amount of protection on a mech, but it has some similar downsides to Hardened Armor. It isn't a type of armor in the traditional construction rules sense, though, and rather is a piece of equipment.
- Tactical Operations, pp. 280-281, "Armor - Hardened Armor"
- Technical Readout: Prototypes, p. 206, "Jihad Technology Advancement Table"
- Tactical Operations, p. 405, "Heavy Weapons And Equipment Construction Data"
- Tactical Operations, p. 377 - 378