1. Design Philosophy
Conventional wisdom in ’mech design is to balance offense, defense, mobility and weapon types and ranges to avoid having any particular weakness – essentially creating a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.
This is a prudent, if conservative, approach to designing a large battlemech intended for independent combat, as it essentially utilises the concept of ‘combined arms’ on an individual basis, and works within the limitations of heat dissipation.
When designing a battlemech to operate within a lance, such a philosophy is not only inefficient, but by designing out strengths from each battlemech, you limit the tactical options available to the lance as a whole. By homogenising ’mech lances, you ensure that regardless of range, performance will be sub-optimal and you turn victory into a question of who fielded the most tons.
This is most especially true for smaller ‘mechs, where the severe limitations on weapon load-out make generalisation particularly costly. A far more effective approach is to design the individual ’mechs within the lance to complement one another’s strengths and weaknesses, while optimising each for its respective role, resulting in far superior combat performance overall, with the caveat that the units are utilised appropriately.
2. Weapon Prioritisation
A weapon that is not fired is a weapon wasted.
Put simply, a good ’mech design should be capable of maintaining maximum usage of its weapon systems for an entire engagement as the first priority, and for the entire theatre as the second. Based on prior experience, my recommendations are as follows:
2.a) Decide on engagement range and stick with it.
In general, short range weapons offer the greatest offensive efficiency – as in, firepower per ton and heat generation, however, they also put the ‘mech at the greatest risk. Long range load-outs have less ’punch’, but are both less risky and tactically superior due to battlefield control.
It is often tempting to mix and match weapon systems ‘just in case’, however, this is not recommended, as it leads to a lot of wasted tonnage as insurance against poor battle tactics. The fact that this design philosophy is so prevalent could be taken as a commentary on officer tactical training quality.
2.b) Balance heat generation and logistics.
Energy weapons are a strategic godsend. Innumerable battles have been lost to broken supply lines denying ammo-dependant ’mechs the ability to use their primary weapon systems. They are also typically lighter overall compared to a ballistic weapon of similar performance. They do, however, have the disadvantage of generating significantly more heat.
In smaller ’mechs, where heat dissipation is excellent, energy weapons are ultimately superior. The heat generated is easily compensated for, and the lack of ammo-dependency eliminates a strategic weakness.
As ’mech sizes increase, however, weapon load-out capacity increases far faster than heat dissipation, requiring the designer to reconsider their approach. In essence, the concept is to design the ’mech to utilise energy weapons as its primary offensive capacity, complemented by ammo-dependant weapons, as heat generation allows.
Any ammo-dependant weapons should also have reasonable inbuilt capacity, with CASE. A recommended amount is between two and three engagements worth.
In summary: Don’t design a mech that cooks itself if it tries to fire all its weapons for more than a couple of rounds, but don’t design a ’mech that becomes a walking target after a few rounds of unloading all its ammunition.
3. Balance For The Role
Once a role and weapon system has been chosen, other design parameters such as armor and speed should be optimised.
In general, the closer range the weapon systems, the more speed and armour the ‘mech needs. All the lasers in the world won’t help a pilot that can’t close to use them.
4. Case File: Super Locust LCT-S1E
Mass: 35 ton
Role: Fast-Attack ’Mech
While an entire lance of them suffered to lack of tactical versatility and insufficient maneuvering room on many battlefields, the use of a combined arms lance consisting of two long range ’mechs and two close range is expected to significantly improve combat performance.
To this end, the Super Locust has been designed and readied for field testing.
Massing at 35 tons, the Super Locust sports an endosteel structure and 280XL engine to match the incredible speed of its 20ton counterpart. In keeping with the signature weapon systems of the LCT-1E and LCT-1T the Super Locust brings a total of 8 medium lasers to bear, with 13 double heat sinks dissipating the considerable heat generated.
Optimum armor, speed and close-range firepower.
Two of these models have been assigned to my lance, and field testing data will be provided as available.
5. Case File: Jaguar-4R
Role: Heavy reconnaissance and long range support
Quad ‘mechs are an unusual beast. While heavily armoured and highly maneuverable, however the loss of the arms restricts overall load-out capacity – tonnage isn’t a problem, just finding somewhere to fit the equipment.
Sgt C. Dmitar submitted this design to me for review and approval: Jump jet capable, reasonable mobility, excellent armour for a ’mech of this size and sporting a vicious ER PPC as a primary weapon, with a minor array of backup weapons.
Lt. Hellstrom’s commentary: Agreed. Speed and the mobility of the jump jets are crucial for performance as heavy reconnaissance. Ideally I would prefer to fit dual-PPCs for superior long-range firepower, however the quantity of armor required to be stripped off to achieve this is unacceptable for any ’mech required to operate independantly.
Tactical Advisory: During combat against enemy ’mechs, recommend utilising mobility to maintain medium range with ER PPC and provide battlefield control.
Performance data will be provided when available.
6. Case File: Raven RVN-3XM
Experimental ’mech. Design parameters CLASSIFIED.
Assigned to En. Kinneson for repair and optimisation.
Performance data CLASSIFIED.