Battle armor, or the lighter power armor variety, are armored infantry. Battle armor's improved resilience, atmospheric containment, and firepower make it more effective than standard infantry in a variety of roles, but much more expensive. Battle armor first evolved from Exoskeletons during the Star League in the early twenty-eighth century, but did not come to prominence on the battlefield until Clan Wolf debuted the Elemental in the mid-twenty-ninth century. Inner Sphere armies began deploying battle armor in the mid-thirty-first century. These battlesuits were based off of Clan battle armor captured or salvaged during Operation REVIVAL. Battle armor is sometimes referred to as Tactical Armor as well.
Battle armor varies in mass between 80 and 2,000 kg, including the mass of the occupant. The suits utilize exoskeletal frames and protective armor, which, in combination with varying amounts of Myomer, can augment the strength and/or speed of the wearer. However, some classes of battle armor have just enough myomer to allow the infantryman within to carry or move the mass of the suit itself. Battle armor may be vaguely bipedal (humanoid) or quadrupedal in form. Battle armor is categorized both by mass and type of locomotion. Bipedal battlesuits are actuated through pressure sensors lining the casing holding the soldier; should the occupant move, the motion is quickly translated into myomer-based movements. Bipedal battle armor can also offer jump capability or limited flight (UMUs), increasing the maneuverability of the soldier, another distinct advantage versus conventional infantry. Alternatively, quadrupedal battlesuits hold a soldier within a cramped cockpit, and operate similarly to a small combat vehicle or Quad BattleMech.
Battle armor mount a variety of fixed and/or modular weaponry and equipment, fulfilling a variety of combat roles. Most battlesuits wield some form of anti-'Mech and/or antipersonnel weaponry. These weapon systems are mainly energy, ballistic, or missile in nature, though battle armor may wield explosives and tasers. Mounting these weapons modularly allows personalization (for instance, left-handed preference), and are especially useful for Inner Sphere battle armor; missile systems of Inner Sphere battle armor hinder jump jet function until jettisoned. Bipedal battlesuits may also mount one or two manipulators, including myomer-articulated Battle Claws. Battlesuits possessing sufficient manipulators and massing less than 1,500 kg may deploy and fight with OmniMechs using Mechanized Battle Armor tactics. In addition, if a battlesuit possesses sufficient manipulators and masses less than 1,000 kg, it can also swarm 'Mechs and attack 'Mech actuators. Battle claws are especially useful for this tactic; the myomer articulation gives these manipulators the strength to literally rip armor and myomer from an enemy 'Mech. Battle armor life support, sensors, and stealth equipment are also common, though their exact capabilities depend on the armor in question. For example, Elemental armor is renowned for its life-support system and intravenous combat drugs, increasing the durability and survivability of the already superhuman Elemental soldiers. In order to operate the armor and all of the equipment, battlesuits make use of large batteries. If these battle armor are able to deploy onboard an OmniMech, the suit will also have adapters to connect to communications and charge their batteries during missions. Clan battle armor are somewhat more resilient than their Inner Sphere successors not only because of their Elemental infantry, but also because they possess atmospheric sealing equipment using a hardening gel called HarJel, which was discovered during the mid-twenty-ninth century.
When used correctly, battle armored troops can easily outmatch their conventional brethren and even defeat vehicles and 'Mechs. Their superior armor and weaponry, coupled with their roughly human size, make them good forces for fighting in tight areas where 'Mechs and vehicles have trouble maneuvering.
Star League Power Armor (Light)
In 2703 weapons engineers, tasked with keeping the Terran Hegemony safe from potential aggressors by an increasingly paranoid First Lord Jonathan Cameron, attempted to weaponize Industrial Exoskeletons approximately seven centuries after they first appeared on Terra. The system was intended to increase the survivability of infantry, the preferred units for naval boarding actions, special operations, and stealth reconnaissance. The process was slow and difficult, requiring twenty redesigns and a large investment. Fifteen years of prototypes eventually led to the field testing of the first combat power armor, the Nighthawk Mk. XXI in 2718. Nighthawk PA(L) proved itself in two additional years of field testing, and secretly entered service with the Star League's Special Armed Services (also known as the "Blackhearts") in 2720.
Nighthawks were secretly used at the forefront of Star League special operations with ruthless efficiency. Rival Great Houses all had heard rumors of new power-armored soldiers, and early prying was patiently catalogued over the first five years of deployment. The fruits of the Nighthawk surveillance paid off on St. Valentine's Day, 14 February, 2725. Every accounted intelligence operative throughout the Inner Sphere prying into Nighthawk development, deployment, and technology was "liquidated", effectively ending all such attempts, and Terran rats were left on each victim's body. Just one month later, the War of Davion Succession began, pitting the Draconis Combine against the Federated Suns, and once again SAS soldiers equipped with Nighthawks entered the Draconis Combine ostensibly to conduct combat testing on Marduk. In months of subsequent operations, the SAS decapitated many DCMS units and intelligence cells stationed throughout the Combine. Once the Star League decided to intervene, General Rebecca Fetladral ordered the SAS to conduct massive reconnaissance. All of this fieldwork was facilitated by the use of Nighthawks. In both sets of operations, Nighthawks remained anonymous. Ultimately, the Hegemony managed to keep its special operations forces a strict secret until the fall of the Star League, at which point Aleksandr Kerensky and his subordinates effectively erased the Nighthawk from whatever scant records remained.
Nighthawk Mk. XXIs were very effective in their designed role. The Mk. XXI featured battle armor-grade Stealth Armor, providing ample protection from small arms, spotting, and sensors. Electronic Countermeasures allowed detected units to interfere with hostile software within range. Soldiers were deployed with their normal preferred or mission-critical infantry weapon system, generally the Mauser 960. Despite the Nighthawk's success, power armor never entered open deployment with the Star League Defense Force. Additionally, power armor wasn't initially deployed with fixed weapon systems like later iterations. The Nighthawk Mk. XXII came next, trading the ECM for a fixed grenade launcher. However, deployment with the Star League Defense Force was interrupted by the Amaris Coup.
Modern battle armor was developed by Clan Wolf during the mid-twenty-ninth century. In order to utilize the resource-rich deep seas of Dagda, Clan Goliath Scorpion introduced titanium-encased diving Exoskeletons, nicknamed "Water Elementals", in 2842. Impressed with their neighbor's new technology but mindful of their martial capabilities, Wolf scientists had their merchants trade 20 years of resource rights to their Dagdan ocean enclaves for the technology to produce the exoskeletons. Secretly, Wolf scientists then weaponized the system in order to improve upon Star League-era Nighthawk light Power Armor. Several types of specialized, mission- and environment-specific battle armor types were developed, but all-purpose "Elementals" became standard by 2867. In 2868, Elementals first saw combat. Two Stars of the battle armor fought in a Trial of Possession against a light Star of Clan Nova Cat's Delta Galaxy; the battle armor won in a stunning victory, and forecast a new era in which infantry would once again be capable of offensive military action.
Shortly after the Wolf-Nova Cat Trial, Clan Hell's Horses new supersoldiers became the standard battle armor infantry. Clan Wolf's new Elementals attracted the attention of Clan Hell's Horses, despite their semi-isolation early in the Golden Century. While left alone, the Horses had developed their own novel breeding protocols and genetic legacies, creating superhuman infantry, the soon-to-be-named "Elemental" phenotype (after the armor). With their initial superhuman sibkos just years from their majority the Horses acted swiftly to ensure their infantry would be well equipped. Hell's Horses' Khan Eric Amirault preemptively batchalled Clan Wolf's Khan Alexis Ward, intending to use Trials of Possession as a means to exchange their technological advances. After a series of counteroffers, the two Khans settled on a set of three Trials, conducted on the northernmost continent of the jointly owned world Tiber later in 2868. Clan Wolf won two of the three Trials, while Clan Hell's Horses won one. Both Clans were satisfied they had obtained either "Elemental" bloodlines or the signature battle armor. Unfortunately for both parties, Clan Jade Falcon raided just after the Tiber Trials and took both the armor and "Elemental" phenotypes from Clan Wolf, ultimately resulting in the spread of both technologies. As with the OmniMech before, subsequent Trials of Possession over coveted Elemental technology were adjudicated by ilKhan Zenos Danforth until his death in 2870. Despite the rapid spread of Elemental battle armor and Elemental warrior phenotypes, the Horses enjoyed an advantage for some time; the first of their Elemental Infantry reached adulthood in 2870.
That same year, Clan Hell's Horses also pioneered 'Mech-based mechanized battle armor tactics. Relative to other types of infantry, Elementals have significantly more armor and firepower, but are only modestly more mobile. Without a significant improvement in mobility or range of weaponry, Elementals would be constrained to either offensives in extreme environments, or defensive duties on land. Combat Vehicles could provide some much needed mobility for Elementals, but vehicles lack in durability and maneuverability on difficult terrain. Clan Hell's Horses scientists provided another solution. As the first Elemental sibkos reached the field in 2870, Clan Hell's Horses introduced their first homegrown OmniMech, the Nova. The Nova featured handholds, communications ports, and power outlets for their Elemental passengers. Deployed in units also called "Novas", the Nova OmniMech could operate concertedly with its Elementals, a revolutionary change in twenty-ninth century infantry combat doctrines. The Nova's innovative mechanized battle armor capability became standard on all subsequent OmniMech designs.
Modern Inner Sphere Battle Armor
Battle armor was introduced, or rather reintroduced, to the Inner Sphere by the Clans during Operation REVIVAL in 3050. The invading Clans used Elementals in their attacks, which confounded Inner Sphere defenders and caused great damage. In response the Inner Sphere's military industry attempted to reverse engineer the technology.
Fortunately for the Inner Sphere, their military-industrial complexes had several factors in favor of quickly bridging this steep technological gap. ComStar's access to Terran records, though largely purged before Aleksandr Kerensky's Exodus, hinted at secret Nighthawk Power Armor units used sparingly in special operations. Inspired, ComStar attempted to replicate Nighthawk armor in secret in the early thirtieth century, well before the Clan Invasion, based on the limited remaining data. Their efforts produced the Tornado Power Armor (Light), and lowered the learning curve for future post-Invasion attempts. Additionally, the Inner Sphere was able to rapidly kick-start battle armor production due to their riches in resources like raw materials, laborers, and capable design teams. The numerous inhabitants of the Inner Sphere also provided enough soldiers of sufficient physical stature without the Clans' Elemental breeding and birthing protocols. Inner Sphere battle armor deployment was mainly limited to the number of trained soldiers, prompting commanders to reserve battle armor for special operations.
Huge efforts were made to hasten battle armor development. The first examples of Inner Sphere battle armor were successfully deployed within just one year of the beginning of the Clan Invasion. Two designs from the Federated Commonwealth (aided by the efforts of the New Avalon Institute of Science) deployed simultaneously in 3050, the Suns' Infiltrator Mk. I and the Lyran Sloth battle armors. Salvage and capture of Clan Elemental armor also led to Inner Sphere-tech clones, better known as the Inner Sphere Standard. Oddly, despite small differences, Inner Sphere Standard battle armor developed throughout the Inner Sphere were functionally identical, perhaps due to rampant corporate espionage during the desperate years of Operation REVIVAL. Precursors to Inner Sphere Standard battle armor were ready for the Battle of Luthien in 3051, and further refinement improved performance in time for the Com Guards to deploy for the Battle of Tukayyid in May, 3052.
Though capable in select roles, early Inner Sphere battle armor was systematically less effective than Clan Elementals. Inner Sphere weapons technology was inferior, making all first generation battle armor undergunned, underprotected, or both. However, mobility was especially problematic for Inner Sphere battlesuits. Some battle armor designs completely neglected jump capability, like both the Infiltrator Mk. I and the Sloth. Even after battle armor jump jet technology was reverse engineered, Inner Sphere battle armor could not use jump jets with missile weaponry. The Inner Sphere Standard avoided this problem by forgoing missiles entirely, but later battle armor, like the Longinus, mounted jettison-capable missile systems; jump jets could be used only after the missiles were detached. Additionally, most Inner Sphere militaries lacked transport units like DropShips and combat vehicles able to manage squads the size of battle armor-encased infantry. With only captured Clan OmniMechs and few trained soldiers able to mount and dismount under fire, Inner Sphere battle armor were rarely able to participate in mechanized combat. These factors conspired to relegate first generation battle armor to security, special operations, pickets, defense, and ambushes. Even when successfully maneuvered, Inner Sphere units were often too few and insufficiently trained. Considering the Clans had solved most of these issues nearly two centuries before, the effectiveness of Inner Sphere battle armor was nonetheless remarkable.
With a surplus of materials and a short window of time available after the Truce of Tukayyid, Inner Sphere armies began producing great quantities of battle armor. Though Cavalier and Raiden battle armor changed the look of Inner Sphere Standard battle armor, their changes were cosmetic.
However, drastic changes to battle armor roles and capabilities soon became common. Battle armor production soon outstripped demand, due primarily to a lack of trained personnel. This resulted in armies reserving their precious soldiers for missions away from the main battle, changing the role of battle armor entirely. Perhaps inspired by the Infiltrator Mk. I's small sensor profile and ease of infiltration, or Sloth's firepower and mines, designers throughout the Inner Sphere revisited the capabilities of their new battle armor for roles like reconnaissance, minefield preparation, spotting, headhunting, or inexpensive static defense. Enhancing alternative battlefield roles became a priority, and a battle armor weapons race began, with each new battlesuit requiring a counterdevelopment. The success of these newer varieties of Inner Sphere battle armor even prompted some Home Clans to put aside nearly two centuries of complacency and begin a crash course developing their own specialized battle armor. By mid-3062 each Great House, several Clans, and even some mercenaries had adapted battle armor to a variety of diverse mission profiles.
Battle armor are widely deployed in a variety of roles depending upon their mobility, armor, and available weaponry. Core units of battle armor infantry most often consist of four soldiers (Inner Sphere, Periphery, and Mercenary Squads), five soldiers (Clan Points and the Marian Hegemony Armed Forces' Contubernii), or six soldiers (Com Guard and Word of Blake Militia Level Is). Larger units are composed of multiple core units, for instance platoons (3-5 squads) and Stars (5 points).
Battle armor is often fielded in mixed formations with other types of units. Their emergent capabilities surpass those of two separate formations working together. Clan battle armor points are frequently deployed in mixed Binaries of OmniMechs and battle armor, called "Novas", with each point drilled in cooperation with a single MechWarrior. Should all of the Stars of an OmniMech Binary or Trinary be replaced with Novas, the units are referred to as "Supernova". The Capellan Confederation fields several types of mixed units called "Augmented Lances", of which two include battle armor. The (Secondary) Augmented 'Mech Lance consists of a mix of four BattleMechs and two squads of battle armor. The (Secondary) Augmented Vehicle Lance, consists of four combat vehicles and four squads of battle armor. The Com Guards also field mixed units, though their formations are not standardized and their unit types are classified by their rough proportion to unit types. In addition, battle armor is also utilized by wealthier private security and police forces.
- This article refers to a common object and addresses the object as a common noun. The preferred term is "battle armor" (except on section titles & table headings, where "Battle Armor" is favored).
- Types of battle armor
- Battle armor equipment
- Battle armor weaponry
- Inner Sphere battle armor organization
- Technical Readout: 3050, p. 8
- Era Report: 2750, pp. 103–104
- Era Report: 3052, pp. 103–106
- A Time of War, p. 186
- LosTech: The MechWarrior Equipment Guide, pp. 57–58
- Era Report: 3052, pp. 103–104
- TechManual, pp. 157–173
- Tactical Operations, pp. 344–346
- Technical Readout: 3075, p. 12
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 44: Clan Elemental battle armor - Wolves originally developed their combat exoskeletons from deep sea diving gear
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 104
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, pp. 16, 68
- Field Manual: ComStar, p. 117
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, p. 135
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, p. 31
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, p. 54: "Golden Century" - the Clan Hell's Horses and Clan Wolf take part in technology-exchange Trials that lead to formulation of the modern Clan Elemental battle armor squads
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, p. 135
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, p. 35
- Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 10
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 41
- Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, p. 126
- Technical Readout: 3050, p. 225
- Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, p. 112
- BattleTech forums: "Mechanized Battle Armor with Early OmniMechs"
- Total Warfare, p. 226: "Mechanized Battle Armor"
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 12
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, p. 10
- Technical Readout: 3050, p. 225
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 8
- Era Report: 3052, pp. 104–106
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 14
- Era Report: 3052, p. 105
- MUL online dates for Infiltrator Mk. I Battle Armor 
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 34
- MUL online dates for Sloth Battle Armor 
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 26
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 6
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, p. 29
- TechManual, p. 172
- Era Report: 3052, p. 106
- Day of Heroes, pp. 25–29
- Field Manual: Draconis Combine, pp. 154–157
- Field Manual: Free Worlds League, pp. 136–137
- Field Manual: Mercenaries, p. 134
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, pp. 181–184
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, pp. 186–189
- Field Manual: ComStar, pp. 147–149
- Field Manual: Capellan Confederation, pp. 142–143
- Field Manual: Lyran Alliance, pp. 144–146
- Field Manual: Federated Suns, pp. 156–158
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, pp. 6–8
- Field Manual: Draconis Combine, p. 19
- Field Manual: Free Worlds League, p. 20
- Field Manual: Mercenaries, p. 28
- Field Manual: Capellan Confederation, p. 35
- Field Manual: Lyran Alliance, p. 27
- Field Manual: Federated Suns, p. 23
- Field Manual: Periphery, p. 16
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans, p. 9
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 11
- Field Manual: ComStar, p. 8
- BattleTech forums: "(Answered) Marian Hegemony Battle Armor"
- Total Warfare, p. 214: "Battle Armor Organization/Weight Table"
- TechManual, p. 172: "Recommended Battle Armor Formations Table"
- Technical Readout: 3050, pp. 224–225
- Field Manual: Capellan Confederation, p. 36
- Field Manual: ComStar, pp. 8–9
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky
- Day of Heroes
- Era Report: 3052
- Field Manual: Capellan Confederation
- Field Manual: ComStar
- Field Manual: Crusader Clans
- Field Manual: Draconis Combine
- Field Manual: Federated Suns
- Field Manual: Free Worlds League
- Field Manual: Lyran Alliance
- Field Manual: Mercenaries
- Field Manual: Periphery
- Field Manual: Warden Clans
- Technical Readout: 3050
- Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade
- Total Warfare