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Ground Warfare in the PDS universe - Phase I Conclusion
In reference to the closed thread here:

This thread is intended as a constructive effort to derive practical conclusions from the aforementioned discussion, which mind you, is a very well executed one.

I believe we all see how a perception is commented upon until we have a relatively good image of how things should be in a science fiction realm. However, due to the -small- amount (which will grow bigger later) of finger-pointing in the latter part of the thread, I have decided to not let it get out of hand like so many threads in so many other online forums.

Thus, let me start. Follow this standard, and nothing else until YOU demonstrate the workability of -your- style of diplomacy.

Projectile Weapons vs Energy Weapons for Infantry Units.

Here is a basic rundown of slugthrowers vs energy weapons like 40mm plasma cannons or even tank or aerospace craft mounted PIC87/100s, ICA100s and IC225s.

Slugthrower - note, not inclusive of railguns which need very large power requirements; this section documents the capabilities and characteristics of cartridge-fired munitions like today's cannons and rifles:


Low cost
Can be made very lightweight (for SMGs, assault rifles, etc)
Little complexity, even for weapons like the HK G-11 which would be the standard issue for our assault light infantry, refer to ASCA thread.
Little risk of catastrophic loss of weapon system - relative, refer to modern weapons design.

Easily adapted to fixed mount systems on suits - automatic belt fed shotgun or grenade launcher arm? Sure, easily done.


Want more firepower or penetrative ability? Get a bigger gun. Note that -heavy- ASCAs are going to be commonplace in planetary ground warfare so you need your grunts or light armours some capability against them. Disposable LAWs and the like will work but only at short range.

Still, multiple HE/AP type OICW/SABR 20mm shells will work to take out a single ASCA, but the ammo is heavy. (Hey, an advanced SABR type rifle will be nice for the light assault troops that can't handle energy guns)

Energy weapons:


Massive firepower from an infantry laser-plasma (or "fusion") cannon - basically a small LPC.
A PC10 would perform like a AC20 and a PC40 is like a repeating tank main gun, that much can be said.


However, these weapons are VERY heavy - a PC10 would weigh about 70lbs so it is restricted to suit mounts only. It may be fitted to fixed defensive positions as a remote controlled system.

They are also very costly compared to "guns", and what happens if the fusion chamber of the LPC blows or someone hits the hypercapacitors for the laser system? Not that they go bang easily, but the weight and risk of such a system makes it inaccessible to light troops.


So, now we see the pros and cons of projectile vs energy. Let's take a fictional field battle then:

Infantry in light powered armour (with handheld small arms and some AT rockets) vs a section of enemy medium armours armed with PC40s.

Who wins?

Obviously the mediums will win. Hands down. Forget about heroics - as soon as you're spotted by the mediums you'll be targeted by some serious superheated fire - take cover and they'll just raze the entire area you're in.

Thus - the only chance that light infantry weapons can be effective against ASCAs and heavy infantry is either to ambush them, attack from outside the range of the enemy armours (you need anti-tank rifles or rail-cannons to destroy the heavy infantry armour in single hits though), or forget about fighting altogether.

After all a heavy infantryman can just waltz right up to you, shrug off all your 300 rounds of 5.56mm rifle fire, pick you up and break you in half in his power gauntlets. That's that. A well designed suit will have NO weak points to the front quarter where the enemy is supposed to be.
Edited by TelQuessir on 31-10-2005 05:54
In reference to the slug thrower portion above, perhaps fleschette ammunition could be used. Very high velocities could be attained which would have the effect of good armor peircing as well as the all important killing power. Flight time of the projectile would be short thus negating any movement of the target.

The link below show a protoype weapon which the US army tested but did not adopt that was based upon the above ammunition.

Just a thought.
Edited by revan on 31-10-2005 05:59
As I mentioned before, mechanized armours should have, at the least, some sort of propulsion device that does not limit itself to the ground. Some gravity problems aside, there is not a chance that you'd always be fighting in flat urban areas.

This could also be utilized as a mobile asset, allowing at least some counter against anti-armour rockets.
Seeing as how I mistakenly posted after Tel had closed the thread I feel that this post still holds relevence in regard to the jump jet question.

Personaly, I would think that if jump jets were used their use would be limited to short duration, limited height leaps. This would be so as to hopefully avoid silouetting yourself againist the sky. Further, in reference to defence againist tracking missiles one would think that active defense measures would be in a more advanced state than they are today. An armored suit would ba a fair expendature in resources and it would stand to reason that as well as providing it with top flight armor and weapons there would be a small missile defense system not only in terms of ECM and the like but in terms of a fast tracking missile defense system ala a miniturized phalanx system (example). Now a suit might not be able to mount such a device without an unacceptable decrease in weapon load but a tank perhaps?
I think any propulsion system on mechanized armor would be limited as an evasive system. These things are around ten feet tall, and probably several tons in weight. The amount of thurst required to make a quick high speed evasive manuver would need an engine far too large to fit. Any sort of boostering would take several seconds of thrust to get anywhere. Lets use a plane for example, the F-14. It weighs approximately 19000 kilograms without any sort of armament and still requires a fair stretch of runway to get up to speed on its own power - its why aircraft carriers use catapults to launch planes. Now, an F-14 is relatively light compared to mobilized armor which not only sports heavy weaponry, such as energy weapons and high caliber cannons, but is also heavily armored. I do not believe that a propulsion system could be used as a countermessure against a high speed missile (or any missle for that matter)

On the other hand, mechanized armors relatively large frame and focus on strength and armor rather than mobility could mean it holds other forms of countermeasures. Heat seeking weapons could easily be taken care of via high temperature flares. Perhaps even directed fletchette charges could be placed on the back of mechanized armor which would unleash a barage of flechette pieces when a missile was detected, providing a localized wall of high velocity lead (or whatever they make them out of) that could shred or destroy the missile. Or if all else fails you could just load them down with enough armor to survive even a direct missile hit, but that might be a little too prohibitive when dealing with rail guns and fusion based anti armor missiles.
I do not believe that a thruster would be used as a means to evade a missile either, rather I think a thruster would be used as a way to get over obsatcles that would otherwise take an inordinate amount of time to circumvent. Now this does not mean that the unit in question would blast hundreds of feet into the sky, rather it would "jump" just high enough to gain clearence over the said obstacle, get over or on it as the case may be and no more. After all it would not due to expose yourself to any and every air defense sytem in the area as well as give your position away, although that could well be a moot point seeing as how no matter what it would most likely be a noisy way to get around at any rate.

The use of this system does not have to be an infinite thing either. It could perhaps only be used a couple of times or maybe even once before needing replenishment of replacement.
Now a question about the infantry armor. How big would these suits be?

Would they be controlled with the pilot sitting in a chair in the chest cavity ala Heavy Gear?
Or would it be more akin to say Starship Troopers where the pilot in effect "wears" the suit?

Now for the light armor, to me the pilot would "wear" the suit, but in say the medium to heavy class with their inherently greater size and weight this form of control could become impractical due to the aforementioned size and weight issues.

In a somewhat related note, I have been unable as of yet to get a sense of scale about how big a heavy suit would be in comparison to a man. Would it be roughly the same size or tower a couple feet over say a six foot man? I would assume that a light suit would be about the wearer's height due to the need for flexibilty but anything heavier would start to grow bigger than the man inside. Would anyone have an idea of how big they could get?

Forgive me if I am nitpicking, but these things tend to nag at the back of my mind.
The ASCA board lists all these things. Light armor is about the size of a person seeing as it is just a guy in advanced armor. Heavy suits are approximately 10 feet tall and I believe what you would call a mech.
Just as a point to consider, "softies" or guys not wearing body armor are at a sever disadvantage on a battlefiled sporting light-heavy power armor (as well as tanks and the like). Thier best bet would be stealthed recon. Simply put, your softies would be a bunch of thermally camoflaged walking bushes, toating the equivalent of the Barrett 82A1/M107 .50 cal sniper rifle, or the XM109 Payload rifle (25mm HV grenade launcher build on the same platform) and a laser designator or GPS targeting system for something really nasty.
Basically, all your softies would be like the "Ghosts" from Starcraft, to your Power armored Marines from the same game. Small arms would be almost obsolete except for taking out sensors and communications of PAs, or hitting the guy when he gets out to get a shower. In fact, your usual softy kit would probably be the "BIG gun" for long range combat, and a shortie carbine with armor piercing loads for personal defense, incase they need to have something they can shoot while running with.
Wash - "This is going to get pretty interesting"
Mal - "Define Interesting"
Wash - "Oh god, oh god, we're all going to die?"

Still flying!
You've a problem if you want to tote around anti materiel sniper rifles like the M82 - weight. Not every soldier is built like Hercules.

Thus comes into play light or even ultralight "powered armours" designed for stealth and rapid movement. These units would be much more efficient than the heavier combatant armours and are first and foremost, designed to augment the natural abilities of a human being and not enclose him or her in an armoured shell to become a walking tank.

Observe the specifications of the present day US Army Land Warrior project - note how they talk about nanotech exoskeletons that enhance dramatically a soldier's strength without encumbering him. I believe they are electrically actuated with power provided from a small hydrogen fuel cell.

Such devices/systems are a decided boon for the long range recon trooper, where operating far from logistics support means that a heavy combat suit would either run out of endurance or lack agility/stealth for LRRP like missions.

And having one such "ultralight" exoskeleton on means that you can tote around your big-ass anti materiel rifle and ammunition around all you want in the boonies, power capacity and underlying human endurance permitting.

Your Barret isn't a standard issue weapon today - and won't be in our operating environment. That is a mission specific tool deployed where there is a set objective of its employment.
Edited by TelQuessir on 31-10-2005 12:41
Old Crusty Commodore
im suprised infantry would be used in a line action

basicly the ``mech`` could be designated tank

i fell true infantry wich use there legs and an insertion transport will only be reserved for specop assignments.

Tanks (hovertanks) would be xtremely efficient
having large army doesnt make sense if you can invest in more ships to keep him from coming there

any army should be a highly specialised shock force of heavy land vehicles with fighters giving close ground support.

like tel so efficiently discribed infantry is useless they get eaten if they take cover they get eaten and if they try to fight back they get eaten by tanks who most likely have there own small Goalkeeper system(makes AT soldiers useless).

True marine boarding infantry has got a substantial decrease in effectiveness would they use heavy armor suits like it has been established.

Specop infantry would benifit greatly from a Weapon like the Barret(similar function i mean) it doesnt nescesarly have to be a huge rifle
i mean look what they did to the G36C itways 2.3 kg for crying out loud.
Weather aint neutral....
Alright, barring an equivalent 50. rifle, a LRRP team would probably carry what would be today's equivilant of a LAW or JAVELIN Missile (the LAW being non-reloadable and the Javelin reloadable).

In my opinion though, an anti-material would probably rely upon a discarding sabot round rather than a slug given the armor that would be present.
For the record, I am not talking about ASCAs, as they are used in space.

Okay, as far as I know, mechanized armours are at least 4m high.

They are made up of intricate ceramics and polymers, the same sort on spacecraft, making them lighter but more effective than metal plating. Average weight of a mechanized armour with no weaponry should be about 1 to 1.2 metric tons. Fully armed mech would be about 1.7 tonnes at most.

Each mech is about 3 times larger then an average person, thus use of hydraulic pressure to actually enable the pilot to move. It is not super fast movement or anything, but it is not slow enough to hinder its effectiveness.

Turrets themselves can be mounted on the armour and are auto tracking, relieving the pilot of manually tracking targets. All the pilot has to do is manuever into range, and control the propulsion/countermeasure systems.

Propulsion systems utilize prototype gravitic boosters, but the low fuel to actually use these systems restrict most mechanized armours to walk. In most cases, mechanized armours can be quad-pedal or bi-pedal, usually with wheels when encountering flat surfaces. The gravitic boosters are short timed blasts that enable a mechanized armour to quickly strafe to the left or right, or if need to, jump about 2.5 times its height. Fuel itself is usually stored in tanks.

Something along those lines is what I'm referring to when I said mechanized armour.
There is no way a 4 meter mechanized armor only weights 1.7 tons fully loaded. An SUV weighs that much and an SUV's dont sport weapons or armor plating. Compared to mechanized armor, SUV's are pretty spacious. Im guessing mechanized armor would weigh at least seven tons, probably ten. I think weight is important to consider because it determines the feasability of rocket assisted evasion. I don't know the workings or specifications of gravitic boosters so I wont comment on their ability to help mechanized armor evade. However, you did say thy were prototype gravitic boosters. I was under the impression that mechanized armor was mass produced, rugged primary ground assault vehicle. Would it be feasable, or even tactically wise, to equip all your armor with prototype equipment? I can see at a testing facility such things happening, but in terms of your average mechanized armor, it just doesnt make sense to fit all mechanized armor with prototype equipment. Now if it wasn't prototype, they it would probably be a good idea. But seeing as how even in the navy there are very few ships with gravitic drives, it seems that there are anything but commonly used parts.
5 tons of steel is equal to 1 ton of kevlar, and it is still the same strength. So yes, you're correct, 8.5 tons of steel, also equivalent to 1.7 tons of kevlar.

Even an SUV is not made up of all steel.

And that's today's materials. Think a little hundred generations into the future, and decide what type of strength those polymers have, weight for weight.
I should note that an ASCA at 9 feet tall weights 10 tons according to the offical post by Tel.

Technological advances are all well and you would all be right without contention (im not saying you're dead wrong, just that there is enough doubt to contend), if we could assume metallurgy is a completely linear evolution. The problem with how the weight of material is being decided is that we use an armor value to decide the weight of the metal. It is true, that metal in the future which can protect against 21st century weapons would be absurdly light... but were not protecting against 21st century weapons. We're protection again 61st century weapons. Yes, the cermanic material with the strength of steel probably does weigh 100 times less, but is that going to stop a nuclear tipped Anti armor rocket or an energy cannon? Future technology doesnt garuntee that new armor will be simply lighter. Rather, its a measure of the weight/strength ratio, and since strength will have to go up to cope with advanced spacefaring weaponry, i do not think its unreasonable to expect the overall weight to have stayed the same, but the strength of material to go up significantly.
10 tons should really be the limit in regards to the maximum weight allowable on something that is going to stomp around on two or even four legs. While is probably possible that something heavier could be built you would think that military designers would take into account the road tolerances in a combat area not to mention the terrain that a unit of this type would be fighting on. It would not do to have your muti-million dollar suit punching holes in the road of the city you hope to capture or getting stuck in unfavorable terrain ie. mud.
Edited by revan on 01-11-2005 03:08
Armor plating might be used as a smaller version of today's 5G armor - electrically-charged ceramics, which is similar to a modern-day British project, where a ceramically-armored tank took a direct hit from an RPG and suffered little damage. You need to either:

A.) overload the armor with a rapid succession of blasts, therefore leaving it open to normal attack

B.) find a weak point, such as the head

C.) attack it with some sort of directed beam weapon.

Major reference from here is the Phase Shift Armor from the anime series Gundam SEED.
A starlight sharpshot magical girl!
Please note that ASCAs are meant for a vacuum environment, where mass is not a factor, only how much protection you can afford to put on it.

And just because a piece of armour is "light" does not make it anymore less powerful than "heavy" armour.

And furthermore, there is no guarentee "light" weapons will be anymore light than armour would be.
Likewise, there is no reason to assume that strong armor will inevitably be light armor.

Mass in space is without a doubt a very big factor. Why do you think a Prince of Hiigara can't manuver like an Avenger? Its because its too massive. Mass affects how long it takes to accelerate an object, even if gravity isn't involved.

Im not sure what your last statement is refering to.
Edited by RagingBlueWind on 01-11-2005 05:48
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