Exoskeletons are specialized mechanical suits, weighing between 80 to 400 kilograms, which increase the strength, speed and other attributes of the wearer. Often used for industrial applications, Exoskeletons may also be utilized for combat, where they are commonly known as Power Armor (Light) or PA(L).
The first exoskeletons were extremely primitive machines, slow and clumsy and limited to hydraulics for motion. However, the invention of Myomer in the twenty-fourth century provided a means of making exoskeletons more efficient. Research efforts by the Star League resulted in a number of technological advances, such as control systems that were more responsive to the user, which soon allowed exoskeletons to explode onto the civilian market. Exoskeletons found a myriad of uses, from construction and mining to search and rescue and firefighting.
Exoskeletons similarly found use for military applications. The first combat exoskeleton, the Nighthawk, was one of the Star League Defense Force’s most closely guarded secrets, in part because of its use by their special forces units. That secret would remain following the Exodus and subsequent Succession Wars, although examples of the Nighthawk would wind up in the care of ComStar and serve as inspiration for the Tornado, while the Clans continued employing exoskeletons to survive the harsh Pentagon Worlds. One of these Clan suits, an underwater submersible used by Clan Goliath Scorpion, would serve as the basis upon which battle armor would be built. Within the Inner Sphere civilian exoskeletons remain ubiquitous, especially with the return of the Clans, and a number of battlefield and gladiatorial designs have since been created.
- TechManual, pp. 160–161: "Battle Armor Basics"
- Technical Readout: Vehicle Annex Revised, p. 180: "Exoskeletons"