Register Register

Author Topic: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I  (Read 4759 times)

sillybrit

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3923
Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« on: 19 October 2011, 01:14:50 »
Infiltrator Mk I Battle Armor - Technical Readout 3058U page 15



     The Infiltrator Mk I is a work of art. Unfortunately, it's one of those works of art that leaves professional critics waxing poetic while the general public say something along the lines of "What the... ?" It's so ugly that the 3051 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary even had the entry "Ugly: Adjective. 1. See Infiltrator Mk I", and the legend of its unattractiveness echoes down the years, earning an in-universe comparison with that modern eyesore, the Ravager Assault Battle Armor. The bad news is that unlike some other war machines in military history where the eye-watering appearance is accompanied by superb combat performance - I'm looking at you Mr. A-10 and Mr. Apache - the Infiltrator Mk I isn't exactly renowned for its stellar battlefield prowess.

     Tested in combat as early as June 3050, the Infiltrator Mk I was the first Battle Armor design developed by a Successor State according to the Master Unit List, and together with the Sloth it was the joint fourth Inner Sphere design to be published, after the Inner Sphere Standard and the first two Gray Death designs. Although we didn't know it at the time, since the current classes of Battle Armor had yet to be defined, the Infiltrator Mk I was also the first Light suit produced by the Inner Sphere, with the Gray Death Scout Suit being the first published. From the Infiltrator Mk I's initial appearance in the 1st Somerset Strikers sourcebook - where it was just called the Infiltrator Battle Armor - it was noted that the Federated Commonwealth had possessed much of the technology required to build the design for some time, except that it had never occurred to anybody to do so before encountering with Elemental. The sourcebook also stated that the Infiltrator Mk I was based in part upon Clan technology captured by the Strikers themselves early on in the invasion, with the Sloth entry making a similar claim. The developmental history of the Infiltrator Mk I remains consistent throughout later books up to the Technical Readout 3058U, although the Striker's involvement in the capture of the Elementals is only noted in the Sloth entry.

     The use of Clan technology in the development of both designs does require that the Elementals were captured much earlier than stated in the 1st Somerset Strikers show, which placed the event on Twycross just a day or two after the Jade Falcons had finished their conquest of the world, with the first prototypes of the Infiltrator Mk I and Sloth arriving just prior to the Falcon's invasion of Waldorff V. According to the Clan Jade Falcon sourcebook, Twycross fell in June 3050 - specifically 23rd June according to Era Report 3052 - and Waldorff V was also conquered in the same month, so there simply wasn't enough time to get the Elementals back to a lab and for enough research to then be done to effect the development of the two Battle Armor designs. Technical Readout 3058U sidesteps the issue by not detailing the circumstances of the capture, although the Infiltrator Mk I entry does acknowledge its first combat deployment was on Waldorff V, confirming that event as still canon. Since the Somerset Strikers show is now recognized as a dramatized and not entirely factual in-universe entertainment broadcast, the Twycross origin can safely ignored without contradicting the "real" in-universe history.

     Unless we accept that the Elementals were indeed captured much earlier and thus on a different planet, and that the show's depiction is entirely artistic license, the easiest way out of the dilemma is to interpret the reliance on Clan technology in the Infiltrator MK I's development as referring to the full-scale production model, while the initial prototypes were entirely Spheroid in origin. This would be akin to how the Houses were eventually capable of building Clantech weapons and other equipment but only in very small numbers and at a prohibitively high cost, so the concept wouldn't be entirely without precedent. A purely Inner Sphere origin for the meat of the design could also explain why neither the Infiltrator Mk I nor the Sloth have the wearer's legs extend into the suit's legs, contrary to the example of the Elemental, giving them both the appearance of miniature 'Mechs rather than powered armor.

     However it came about, the Infiltrator Mk I has changed as the game has evolved, although the design has not endured anywhere near as much turmoil as the IS Standard. Initially described as weighing one ton, which would place it in the Medium Battle Armor category, the suit had half the armor of an Elemental, a grenade launcher that had only four shots, and was unable to make Anti-'Mech attacks or use Mechanized Battle Armor tactics; a less than amazing performance altogether, but perhaps not unexpected for the Inner Sphere's first attempt at Battle Armor. On the positive side it did have incredibly stealthy armor - the first Battle Armor to possess this trait - that meant that it was immune to detection by Active Probes when hidden, and more importantly inflicted a whopping +3 hit penalty at medium range, doubling to +6 at long, which meant that even with its slow speed and lack of jump capability the Infiltrator Mk I was a tough target to hit outside of short range. Temporarily designated the Infiltrator Stealth Armor in the BattleTech Master Rules, it was finally called the Infiltrator Mk I in Lostech, but the design's capabilities had remained unaltered up until this point, although the release of the Battle Armor construction rules in the Classic BattleTech Companion indicated that changes were a-coming. Technical Readout 3058U brought both good news and bad news: now classified as Light Battle Armor, the suit's grenade launcher now has unlimited shots on the BattleTech scale, but the armor is only a third as stealthy, while the ability to hide from Active Probes was lost thanks to Total War. The revised version of the Readout also adds Mechanized Battle Armor ability due to recent changes to Total War that grant that capability to any suit up to the Heavy class that have at least one Basic Manipulator.

     From the beginning it was obvious that the Infiltrator Mk I was not a frontline combat design. Its combination of stealth, extra sensors, weak armor and pitiful weaponry better suited it to scout duties, although its slow speed and lack of jump capability limit its performance in that role as well. Nicknamed the "Waddle" by its frustrated operators due to its ungainly gait, the Infiltrator Mk I unfortunately found itself struggling as inexperienced commanders tried to use it for missions that ill-suited its capabilities, a situation that continued even after the IS Standard became available. In later years, the Infiltrator Mk I would continue service in units unable to procure the much improved Infiltrator Mk II, in particular operating with the various covert and special operations units within the LAAF and AFFS, where its ability to sneak up on the enemy and quietly observe them was much more important than simple combat performance. Unlike the Suns, who switched production to the Infiltrator Mk II, the Lyrans never continued development of stealthy Battle Armor and so they have no replacement, putting them at a severe disadvantage in Battle Armor special operations when compared to every other House, including the Republic. The LAAF did eventually acquire the Gray Death Scout Suit despite its lack of stealth, presumably using it for scout duties in line units while the Infiltrator Mk I continues its covert operations roles, but it still leaves them with a shortcoming in their forces. Somewhat amusingly, by the time of the Dark Age the Waddle had also shuffled into Republic service, while continuing to operate with the Suns and Lyran armed forces. Anybody who ever says the Davions and Steiners didn't make the Republic pay for the worlds they took obviously didn't take into account the RAF having to use the Infiltrator Mk I.

     The suit is a simple unit to use in the game, just get it to some cover where it can observe enemy movement and then call in the heavy fire support. The grenade launcher doesn't give the Infiltrator Mk I much ability to fight back if enemy Battle Armor, 'Mechs or tanks come looking to mark its dance card, but it is perhaps enough to give some conventional infantry types food for thought, however some of the more capable infantry introduced in Technical Readout 3085 have little to fear from the Waddle unless they are foolish enough to get too close. Attempts to use the Infiltrator Mk I offensively or without significant friendlies to provide support are just going to result in frustration and body bags. Personally, when spotting for fire support, I'd rather take a pair of Tornado PA(L) squads than a single Infiltrator Mk I squad; they're just as stealthy, have the same total BV cost, and while they individually might die a little quicker, having two means that I can keep more terrain under observation or have one hidden in reserve (plus they look better).

     A single variant of the Infiltrator Mk I has been developed by special operations groups belonging to both former Federated Commonwealth partners that downgrades the all but pointless armament to add additional sensors. This variant appears to be more like a field refit rather than factory-built model, given the modest nature of the changes that do nothing to address the design's major flaws. Swapping the fixed grenade launcher for an Anti-Personnel Weapon Mount freed up the mass to add the extra equipment. The new improved sensors act as a shorter ranged Active Probe, while the remote sensor dispenser provides some intriguing possibilities for the sneakier-minded player when using some of the advanced rules and equipment from Tactical Operations. By laying down remote sensors around the battlefield, any friendly unit within 67-hexes that is equipped with an Active Probe, C3 Master Computer, Improved C3 Computer, Command Console Cockpit or Communications Equipment, plus certain specialist infantry, can monitor the sensor output and use it to spot for artillery or indirect LRM fire. In addition, when using double-blind rules, such a sensor network can provide an invaluable advantage, allowing you to more easily track the enemy, and even if they eventually destroy the sensors you will at least have a datum point for the location of the attacking unit. Although no other Infiltrator Mk I variant is known to exist, I have to wonder about the inspiration for the visual appearance of the Ravager Assault Battle Armor. As jymset pointed out to me, the similarity of aesthetic design between the two radically different suits is striking.

     Despite all the doom and gloom on the BattleTech battlefield, the Infiltrator Mk I is actually usable within the RPG. Sure, it's not as good as other suits, but it's an acceptable option at the more individual scale found during role-playing sessions, that also better match its covert operations role. The Special Ops variant of the Infiltrator Mk I shines particularly well here with its extra sensor equipment and ability to mount a variety of small arms, which can make it a fearsome sniper or fire support for a spec ops team. I would still rather take a suit with armored gloves, but I wouldn't be averse to using the Infiltrator Mk I in this case.

     Unfortunately there's not much that can be said to make the Infiltrator Mk I any better than what it actually is. As Technical Readout 3058U says, it was developed before its time, pressed into service out of desperation but then left to stagnate while the Battle Armor world moved on to bigger and better designs. Even its one and only variant simply improves its capabilities within its limits, without doing anything to expand those limits. The Infiltrator Mk I isn't alone in that regard, the general theme of Battle Armor design for both the Clans and Inner Sphere tends to be to create a new and superior suit rather than just fix what you already have, unlike 'Mechs, vehicles and fighters that can all show examples of progressive enhancements to an individual design. Yes, the Infiltrator Mk II is described as being the continued refinement of the original, but when comparing the two side by side there's little to show that from the stats, while their appearances are drastically different. So the Infiltrator Mk I remains what it is and all that it will ever be: it's the prototype that was rushed to the battlefront, used and sometimes abused by its operators, and the ugly duckling that never gets to be a swan.

Next up:
  • GD Scout
  • GD Standard
  • Raiden
  • Kage
  • Kanazuchi
  • Gnome

worktroll

  • Ombudsman
  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 20864
  • 504th "Gateway" Division
    • There are Monsters in my Sky!
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #1 on: 19 October 2011, 01:55:18 »
Good read, thanks!

One has to assume the operator is curled up inside the upper torso, not unlike a protomech - there's simply no way a human can fit their legs into the Infiltrator Mk I's ...

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

Headshot

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 318
  • Trust me. I know what i'm doing.
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #2 on: 19 October 2011, 04:30:31 »
The reason for the general lack of improvements on existing designs is probably that battle armor is more of a mass produced throwaway unit than say Mechs, which can and will be rebuild even if suffering heavy, crippling damage. I seriously doubt a suit with several holes in it is repaired, and not just discarded (recycled?) and replaced. Given how incredibly integrated the suits technology has to be, any serious repairs have to be comparable to basically rebuilding it from ground up.
It just has to be easier, faster and cheaper to build a completely new suit and phase out the old version, instead of "upgrading" the old one in whats effectively a complete rebuilt anyway.
 

Jellico

  • Spatium Magister
  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4445
  • BattleMechs are the lords of the battlefield
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #3 on: 19 October 2011, 05:46:37 »
No, they are salvaged and rebuilt.

Deadborder

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6989
  • Technical Victory!
    • Elmer Studios Blog
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #4 on: 19 October 2011, 08:36:16 »
Like my comments on the Sloth, the Waddle holds my favour for the same reasons; it's a zero-generation suit, one that was probably slapped together and rushed to the battlefield for the want of something - anything - that would be effectvie against the Clans and especially the Elementals. It's certainly a case of "better then nothing", but that's only by a slim margin.

I do agree with the assement in the OP; its far more useful in an RP context then in the tactical game. But then, most things are more more useful then it.

One interesting thing to compare to the Sloth is its legacy. While the Sloth would go on to spawn the entire Quad battle armour line, the Infiltrator I is pretty much a dead end. The Infiltrator II is a completely different suit, one which has no connection beyond name.
Author of BattleCorps stories Grand Theft Agro and Zero Signal



Whenever you use terms like 'fiat' or 'stupid pills', you render your argument invalid

How to Draw MegaMek Icons the Deadborder Way

LastChanceCav

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2280
  • Repossessing the dispossessed ...
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #5 on: 19 October 2011, 09:23:32 »
There's something about the ungainly looks and carapace like torso of the Infiltrator Mk. 1 that it first made me think of the "clam-shell" armor from The Forever War. The most impressive thing about the design is how quickly the FC went from meeting Elementals and dusting off the old Nighthawk specs to fielding the first light battle armor. It also surprises me that the IS went straight to driving battle armors instead of wearing them, it seems like they invented the control system that hadn't existed for BA/PA before.

Cheers,
LCC
Last Chance Engineering - Bespoke Battlemechs for the refined gentleman.

Deadborder

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6989
  • Technical Victory!
    • Elmer Studios Blog
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #6 on: 19 October 2011, 09:59:20 »
One thing that strikes me is that both the Sloth and Infiltrator have purely mechnical legs, as opposed to the Elemental with the suilt augmenting the pilot. Maybe the NAIS designers hadn't figured that much out when they were working on the pair of them, or maybe they hadn't factored in just how big and powerful the actual Elemental soldiers themselves were. Either way, it's a part of the "dead end" design of the Waddle, but a curious one
Author of BattleCorps stories Grand Theft Agro and Zero Signal



Whenever you use terms like 'fiat' or 'stupid pills', you render your argument invalid

How to Draw MegaMek Icons the Deadborder Way

blitzy

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 654
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #7 on: 19 October 2011, 10:08:43 »
I never really looked into it, but often wondered if it could be adapted to mount light tag.  It seems fitting considering its intended purpose.
"..and like children playing after sunset, we were surrounded by darkness."  -Ruri Hoshino


sillybrit

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 3923
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #8 on: 19 October 2011, 10:23:33 »
Given how easily various Battle Armor designs have received field or maintenance level refits and how extensive they can be - the Gray Death Scout started as effectively a refit of the Inner Sphere Standard, for example - then including a Light TAG by removing or changing some other feature should be relatively trivial.

A quick and dirty option would be to replace the Grenade Launcher with the TAG and ignore the mass difference, although you could instead also add a Firedrake and APWM, for example. Another option would be to replace the Prototype Stealth with Basic Stealth, using the mass saved to just add the Light TAG as an extra system, without removing anything.

glitterboy2098

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 8302
    • The Temple Grounds - My Roleplaying and History website
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #9 on: 19 October 2011, 13:33:52 »
One thing that strikes me is that both the Sloth and Infiltrator have purely mechnical legs, as opposed to the Elemental with the suilt augmenting the pilot. Maybe the NAIS designers hadn't figured that much out when they were working on the pair of them, or maybe they hadn't factored in just how big and powerful the actual Elemental soldiers themselves were. Either way, it's a part of the "dead end" design of the Waddle, but a curious one

i don't know, the "mini-mech" approach went on to be used on the kanazuchi and fenrir armors, where were very successful. (actually, the kanazuchi looks very similar to the inflitrator. maybe some combine industrial espionage going on?)

Jim1701

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 1740
  • "Don't Panic"
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #10 on: 19 October 2011, 13:34:49 »
They had to make the Mk I so they could turn around and make the awesome Mk II.  Duh.  [drool]

Demos

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 1602
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #11 on: 19 October 2011, 13:41:01 »
Thanks for the article.

The Infiltrator Mk I suffers from the prototype armor, but thats ok for one of the first suits (or the first suit, not counting SL Nighthawk or CS Tornado PA(L) ) developed by the IS.
I'm glad that not an 'updated' design with new armor was published, but the whole new design Infiltrator Mk II.
"WoB - Seekers of Serenity, Protectors of Human Purity, Enforcers of Blake's Will!"

Jellico

  • Spatium Magister
  • Freelance Writer
  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4445
  • BattleMechs are the lords of the battlefield
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #12 on: 14 April 2012, 03:12:10 »
While the grenade launcher might not add much firepower based on the errata for Tac Ops, the ability to lay screening smoke can only aid the recon role.

Hellraiser

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 8025
  • Cry Havoc and Unleash the Gods of Fiat.
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #13 on: 14 April 2012, 16:42:11 »
I like the little bugger.

Sure its odd, and on the map it has little use, but it was our 1st look at "Stealth" armor & it has charm in its quirkiness.

I kind of picture one being hidden in a warehouse or barn by a deep cover team who only bring it out under the cover of night & then have to be back before dawn to bury it and go back to looking like civies again.


I never noticed that leg issue before, yikes, I wonder how they fit in there.

« Last Edit: 14 April 2012, 16:44:38 by Hellraiser »
3041: General Lance Hawkins: The Equalizers
3053: Star Colonel Rexor Kerensky: The Silver Wolves

"I don't shoot Urbanmechs, I walk up, stomp on their foot, wait for the head to pop open & drop in a hand grenade (or Elemental)" - Joel47
Against mechs, infantry have two options: Run screaming from Godzilla, or giggle under your breath as the arrogant fools blunder into your trap. - Weirdo

Hellraiser

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 8025
  • Cry Havoc and Unleash the Gods of Fiat.
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #14 on: 14 April 2012, 16:42:50 »
While the grenade launcher might not add much firepower based on the errata for Tac Ops, the ability to lay screening smoke can only aid the recon role. 

Good call sir !
I like that idea.
3041: General Lance Hawkins: The Equalizers
3053: Star Colonel Rexor Kerensky: The Silver Wolves

"I don't shoot Urbanmechs, I walk up, stomp on their foot, wait for the head to pop open & drop in a hand grenade (or Elemental)" - Joel47
Against mechs, infantry have two options: Run screaming from Godzilla, or giggle under your breath as the arrogant fools blunder into your trap. - Weirdo

oldfart3025

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 240
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #15 on: 11 June 2012, 08:57:34 »

We run the Mark I Infiltrator in LRRP teams behind the lines in campaigns. The teams are usually a mix of the standard variant and spec ops version. The standard's grenade launcher adds some additional defensive firepower if hostile light infantry recon teams are encountered, but that is the extent of it. The Mark One's job is to observe and sniff out any funny business going on with Team Bad Guy. Not get into firefights with people who think that your "Waddles" would look better filled with holes. Hostile personnel don't like tattle-tales.

Sometimes the Infiltrator Mk. Is will work in concert with better equipped teams (special forces or otherwise), in a support role, in "back yard" operations in a campaign. It performs well in this kind of dirty work.

Sure , the design is dated. But it can still play a part in a narrow niche and special roles. Just don't run it in direct combat, and it will work for you.

Just my belated two cents worth.
"That which I cannot crush with words alone, I shall crush with the tanks of the Imperial Guard!"~Lord Solar Macharius

Gryphon

  • Master Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 325
Re: Battle Armor of the Week - Infiltrator Mk I
« Reply #16 on: 15 June 2012, 16:39:37 »
Unfortunately, that exact lack of an updated Mk.1 is what is so glaring in the Battletech universe.

Look at it this way, this is a universe where EVERYTHING is recycled for combat use, rebuilt, salvaged, parted out and even fielded in frankenmech fashion as the situation required it. Along come the Helm Core, the Clans, and the Neo Technical Renaissance, and a plethora of new tech is added, and new designs.

But even so, 3050 was all about what was old becoming more effective, even if many of those suffered form New Toy Syndrome. Project Phoenix and the many Star League designs that have been resurrected have shown us that the Inner Sphere, and to a degree even the Clans, are categorically unable to just discard something, and Power Armor isn't any different, considering the resurgence of PA(L) designs such as the Nighthawk and Tornado.

So we have the first Battle Armor, the first Light BA at that, and no one has made any effort to take this progenitor, which was made in sufficient enough numbers that even after massive battlefield casualties such a "poor" unit would suffer, it still serves, and no one has upgraded it at all?

Shenanigans!!! I call shenanigans!!!

That literally makes no sense to me. A quick swap to standard armor, and a slightly better weapon, and this Battle armor is suddenly useable by everybody. No, it isn't a great armor like this, but it works, and everyone is so unit starved later in it should have happened across the board. The above Prototype Stealth to Standard Stealth swap frees up space that could be used for a better weapon, supporting electronics, any number of useful systems. But no such change is apparent?

Heck, it hasn't even gotten a "The Old is the New New" entry anywhere.

I can't make the claim it would be a really useful suit, but I can claim it should have been updated or upgraded or refined or what ever you want. Heck, at the very least, this sort of Battle Armor, alongside the Ravager and Kanazuchi encompasses 90% of the tech the inner sphere needs to counter Protomechs all by themselves! (Again, maybe not all that effectively, but they could at least make a try at it, alongside the other efforts being expended there.)

It just doesn't make any sense to me that it got so pitifully discarded is all...

 

Register