Private Eastman wasn’t sure why he was even here, in the middle of Lee’s massive forests waving his Ostscout‘s arms around in an attempt to find a Capellan invasion force. The Fifth Davion Guards already had complete air superiority after the Davion aerospace forces had ambushed the Liao fighters in orbit, so there really was no need for him to be casually strolling through the dense foliage with his ‘Mech’s arms out looking like a blind metal giant stumbling through a jungle.
Constant air overwatch and reconnaissance flights would have found them eventually. But rather than wait, the top brass had demanded a MechWarrior risk their life just to prove how superior ‘Mechs were to every other military asset. Private Eastman, in his incredibly valuable Ostscout, drew the short straw.
Unfortunately, Lee’s dense forests offered the Liao invaders an excellent location to hide. The foliage and geologic formations from previous ice ages meant there was a lot of data for the Ostscout‘s computer to crunch, preventing Eastman from trundling his 35-ton ‘Mech any faster than a slow walk.
It wasn’t what the Light ‘Mech Pilot’s Handbook said to do when approaching a suspected enemy position. In fact, it was the exact opposite of what the Handbook said.
“Fuck,” Eastman cursed under his breath, fearful that his voice would escape the Osctscout‘s cockpit. As though he could be any louder than the dozens of branches his ‘Mech’s giant feet were snapping with every step.
Just then, a blip. It was faint, a combination of magnetic and humidity sensors being tripped. The iron-filled rocks throughout the forest normally meant mag scans were unreliable, but the Ostscout’s scanners could combine that data with ambient humidity levels. If morning dew formed on cold metal, the system would pick it up. Which is exactly what his scanners were reading just over 900 meters ahead of him.
Eastman stopped. He double-checked his readings, confirming the combination of magnetic resonance and near 100 percent humidity. He brought the location up on infrared, and sure enough, a dark hole presented itself at the same location--something even colder than the atmosphere around it. Something trying to hide.
Now the Osctcout aped the movements of a man who’d just run straight into a bear. Frozen with fear, Eastman debated his options. He could break radio silence and ask for orders, but if there were Capellan troops out there, they’d certainly pick up his transmission. He could advance and get a closer look, but that seemed suicidal given his Ostscout was armed with a single Medium Laser.
Or he could run. The noise would certainly awaken whatever was out there, but it seemed the safest option.
Then the decision was made for him as a pair of missiles arced out from the forest to impact his ‘Mech’s torso.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Private Eastman shouted, kicking his Ostscout around and high-tailing it back through the path his ‘Mech had already cut through the foliage. So hasty was his retreat that he didn’t notice how the missile impacts had accidentally flipped his mic to broadcast through his ‘Mech’s external speakers, treating the Capellan ambushers to an expletive-filled Doppler effect.
Nearly a century after the highly successful Ostroc made a name for Ostmann Industries, the company decided to embark on an entirely new venture for what was then a new class of BattleMech. The Ostscout was designed purely and solely for the important and dangerous job of battlefield reconnaissance. Initially armed solely with potent targeting, communication, and sensor systems, only after vociferous protest from its pilots did Ostmann eventually provide the Ostscout with a single Medium Laser for self-defense. Even then, Ostscout pilots are advised never to engage the enemy and to use the ‘Mech’s extreme speed and long-range sensor equipment to avoid combat entirely.
The first OTT-7J Ostscout rolled off the assembly line in the year 2600. Its powerful TRSS.2L3 target-tracking system and narrowband Barret 4000 comms system were at the time both state of the art, as were the various sensors located in the Ostscout‘s arms. Capable of recording everything from barometric pressure to geological data, the Ostscout‘s sensors took in so much data that its onboard computer proved incapable of processing it when the ‘Mech was traveling at top speed, forcing the Ostscout to move slowly through areas of interest. The location of the sensors also required the ‘Mech to wave its arms around--a humorous sight for bystanders as it would often appear like the ‘Mech was lost.
Unfortunately, it also meant that the Ostscout was most vulnerable when it was performing in its intended role. As all light ‘Mech pilots are taught at various military academies throughout the Inner Sphere, speed is life. Without it, the fragile Ostscout is easy prey to anything that manages to evade its sensor array.
Despite these flaws, the Ostscout became yet another commercial success for Ostmann Industries for two reasons. First, the Ostscout arrived at the start of the Star League and at the very height of BattleMechs being seen as the only military hardware worth having. As such, military procurement officers from both Star League and House militaries placed reduced emphasis on traditional (and cheaper) reconnaissance solutions, such as light-armored vehicles, VTOL aircraft, and unmanned drones. Second, Ostmann licensed the Ostscout to Kong Interstellar Corporation in 2700, allowing the Ostscout to flood the market and cement itself as the premiere reconnaissance BattleMech.
Kong Interstellar’s factory on Connaught would be destroyed 100 years later at the onset of the First Succession War, but this actually proved somewhat beneficial to the Ostscout‘s survival. As new ‘Mechs and parts dried up, commanders started guarding their Ostscouts like ancient treasures, rarely using them but in the direst of circumstances. Many Ostscouts survived the Succession Wars in pristine condition, although others were forced to replace their delicate sensors with inferior (but easier to maintain) equipment.
For centuries, the main model of Ostscout was the OTT-7J. Equipped with a VOX 280 fusion engine capable of kicking the 35-ton ‘Mech into a running speed of 129 kph, the Ostscout also came with eight Ostmann Sct-A jump jets capable of launching the ‘Mech up to 240 meters. Four-and-a-half tons of armor kept the ‘Mech safe for a salvo or two, while its single Medium Laser allowed it to fend off infantry and light vehicles, although pilots were instructed explicitly to avoid combat due to the Ostscout‘s extremely light armament.
The only other variant of the Ostscout produced by Ostmann was the OTT-7Jb, the SLDF Royal variant which replaced the standard chassis with Endo Steel in order to make room for a Beagle Active Probe. It wasn’t until 3050 that the OTT-7K arrived, although it merely used technology recovered from the Helm Memory Core to replace the OTT-7J’s single medium laser with Target Acquisition Gear, returning the Ostscout to its completely unarmed origins.
By 3064, a more substantial upgrade of the venerable Ostscout came courtesy of ComStar. The OTT-9CS not only used an Endo Steel chassis but also a 280 XL engine to save enough weight for a collection of acronymed equipment including BAP, ECM, TAG, and a C3i computer. It also more than doubled the Ostscout‘s firepower with two ER Medium Lasers and an ER Small Laser and provided almost half-again as much protection with six tons of ferro-fibrous armor. This variant was also the first to redesign the Ostscout‘s sensors such that pilots no longer needed to wave the ‘Mech’s arms around in order to obtain clear sensor data. The onboard computer was similarly upgraded so the pilot could maintain the Ostscout‘s full 129 kph running speed while still processing that data stream at full capacity.
Although ComStar had intended to retain the OTT-9CS for its own armed forces, a former Precentor leaked the design to both the breakaway Word of Blake as well as the Lyran Alliance. Both factions then began producing their own variants. The OTT-9S from the Lyrans retained the standard VOX 280 engine but used Endo Steel and ferro-fibrous armor to clear up enough space for two ER Medium Lasers and two anti-personnel pods along with BAP, ECM, and TAG.
The Word’s OTT-10CS, produced by Krupp Armament Works and Odin Manufacturing, used an XL engine and gyro combination to replace the standard jump jets with ten Rawlings 45i Improved Jump Jets. The electronic equipment was paired back to just the C3i computer and the ER Small Laser was also dropped. Krupp would later improve the Ostscout further with the OTT-11J, upgrading the engine to a GM 315 XL for a running speed of 150 kph. The Improved Jump Jets were replaced with standard versions, but the two ER Medium Lasers were upgraded to two Light PPCs along with TAG.
Several decades went by as the Jihad and subsequent Dark Age curtailed ‘Mech development throughout the Inner Sphere. After the Draconis Combine captured the Robinson Standard Battleworks in the late 3140s, it retooled the factory to produce the new OTT-8J Ostscout. An extralight engine provides enough weight savings for an ECM and Bloodhound Active Probe, while the single Medium Laser is upgraded to a Martell-X Medium X-Pulse Laser. Double heat sinks keep the recon ‘Mech cool and six tons of ferro-fibrous armor keep it relatively well protected.
The most advanced Ostscout comes courtesy of a joint venture between Kong Interstellar and Clan Sea Fox. Kong provides the stealth armor, ECM, light fusion engine, and endo-composite chassis, while the Sea Foxes provide a Clan-spec ER Large Laser and a network of arms dealers. The OTT-12R’s maneuverability, jump capacity, and armor protection remain unchanged from the original OTT-7J.
The evolution of the Ostscout has helped it retain its status as a superior scout ‘Mech, but the battlefield has changed in the many centuries since it was first introduced. Scout ‘Mechs of the modern battlefield are larger, more heavily armed and armored, and just as fast as the Ostscout. Further, the decades of the Dark Age have tarnished the BattleMech’s image as the best solution to every military problem. Combined arms and the efficiency of war have seen a resurgence in more traditional reconnaissance equipment, and if this trend continues, the Ostscout may find itself without a place in modern armies.
And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.