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 VehiclesEdit
In many cases, combat vehicles can be just as powerful if not more so 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.
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 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 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 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.
Super-Heavy Vehicles are extremely large combat vehicles, used usually in defense, artillery, and command combat vehicle roles. Other than to their sheer weight and size, they are extremely similar to assault vehicles. Prior to the Jihad era, super-heavy vehicles were considered experimental units, though it soon became readily accessible technology with mass-production of this type of vehicle possible by 3075.. Additionally, the weight class of a super-heavy vehicle depends on its locomotion type: a super-heavy tracked-type vehicle weighs between 101 to 200 tons, while naval types can be as heavy as 555 tons.
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 a very high weight capacity compared to other ground vehicles, allowing them to mount the heaviest weapons and armor.
Vertical Take-Off and LandingEdit
VTOL craft use directional jets or rotors to achieve flight, allowing for high speeds and maneuverability over any terrain simply by flying over it. These vehicles are akin to modern helicopters, and can hover in place at altitude. Their light weight, however, allows for limited armoring and their means of locomotion are particularly vulnerable to damage from weapons fire.
Wing in Ground EffectEdit
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.
- Total Warfare, pp. 22-23, "Combat Vehicles"
- Techmanual, p. 43, "BattleMech Tech: A Primer"
- TechManual, p.90-94, "The Mechanized Battlefield"
- Technical Readout: Prototypes, p. 208 Jihad Technology Advancement Table / Construction Options - "Super-Heavy Combat Vehicles re-rated from Experimental Technology to Total Warfare / regular rules in 3075."
- Tactical Operations, pp. 70, 378 - Super-Heavy Vehicles - Basic description and rudimentary combat rules.
- Combat - Errant noting they can non-naval super-heavies can enter depth 1 water and without being stuck/destroyed with regardless of lacking of environmental sealing due to their 2 level size.
- TechManual, pp. 94-95, "Combat Vehicle Basics",