Used in low-intensity conflicts and as support for BattleMechs, Combat Vehicles are employed by all major forces of the Inner Sphere as a way to spare their more valuable 'Mechs as much as possible. Their method of construction is similar in some regards, and they can take advantage of modular technology in the same way as 'Mechs to create OmniVehicles. Also like 'Mechs, combat vehicles are classified by weight, as well as their method of locomotion.
 BattleMechs vs Combat Vehicles
In many cases, combat vehicles can be just as good if not better than their BattleMech counterparts. Combat vehicles are structurally weaker and, for some designs, not as maneuverable as 'Mechs; a tracked vehicle for example cannot negotiate dense woodland or deep waterways as well as a 'Mech. However they do use the same weapons, armor and technology as found on 'Mechs. Ground vehicles also benefit from the fact that they have a lower center of gravity and larger footprint than 'Mechs, allowing for more stability. Though most are powered by an internal combustion engine and limited to ballistic or missile weaponry, this combined with advantages in their design allows them to shed waste heat more efficiently. Power Amplifiers allow for ICE-equipped vehicles to use lasers and other energy weapons; other vehicles are built with their own fusion engines, and are still cheaper to produce than 'Mechs.
 By Weight
 Light Vehicles
Light vehicles are used primarily for reconnaissance. With a maximum weight of 35 tons, their design is based almost exclusively on speed. This category is dominated by hovercraft, although tracked and wheeled light vehicles do exist.
 Medium Vehicles
Medium vehicles fill the role of skirmishers within the various armed forces. Their job is to harass and pin down the enemy until the firepower of heavier units can be brought to bear. Medium vehicles weigh from 36 to 55 tons.
 Heavy Vehicles
Heavy vehicles are the workhorse vehicles of the Successor State armies, fulfilling the same role as medium-weight 'Mechs. Weighing from 56 to 75 tons, heavy vehicles pack serious firepower and protection, making them more dangerous than even some medium 'Mechs.
 Assault Vehicles
Assault vehicles rely on the sheer volume of firepower they wield to take down even heavy 'Mechs. Weighing from 76 to 100 tons, their slow speed is their only drawback.
 By Locomotion
Hovercraft are among the fastest ground vehicles, attaining such high speeds by generating lift from powerful fans underneath a flexible skirt, creating a cushion of air it rides on. By nature a lightweight design, the skirt is also very susceptible to damage from weapons fire and natural hazards.
Wheeled vehicles produce locomotion by military-grade wheels and transmission system, achieving a middle ground in terms of speed between hover and tracked vehicles. Despite their off-road capabilities, they are less able to handle difficult terrain than hover vehicles.
Tracked vehicles use loops of interlocking metal plates known as tracks. While not as fast as hover or wheeled vehicles, tracked vehicles have no weight cap, allowing them to mount the heaviest weapons and armor.
 Vertical Take-Off and Landing
VTOL craft use directional jets or rotors to achieve flight, allowing for high speeds and maneuverability over any terrain. Their light weight however allows for limited armoring and their means of locomotion are particularly vulnerable to damage from weapons fire.
 Wing in Ground Effect
WiGE craft are a cross between hovercraft and aircraft, utilizing an aerodynamic principle known as "wing in ground effect" to produce limited lift. This allows them to achieve the same speed and maneuverability as hovercraft without the vulnerable skirt. Vehicles of this type are mostly used for transportation purposes.
Naval vessels are restricted entirely to naval operations, and as such are rarely seen except on worlds with large bodies of water. When operating in this environment, though, they are easily able to outmaneuver 'Mechs whether operating underwater or on the surface.
It should be noted that combat vehicles are referred to as "Armor" forces in earlier publications and also used as the name of regimental/battalion/company formations.
 See Also
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Total Warfare, pp. 22-23
- ↑ Techmanual, p. 43, "BatlleMech Tech: A Primer"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Techmanual, p.90-94, "The Mechanized Battlefield"