The Mastiff was a versatile, cost-effective demi-suit currently used by AmFed forces. This late-generation model, manufactured by FMC, was a popular example of a demi-suit which used a ‘saddle’-type operator’s compartment. The pilot was seated on a special saddle with his legs stretching down into the demi-suit’s upper leg sections. While this imposed limits on the waist’s range of traverse, it did reduce the space occupied by the operator, which allowed for thicker torso armour. The operator’s legs fit into an ‘active harness’ permitting the demi-suit to mimic his leg movements even with neural inductance controls deactivated. Many pilots also considered saddle-type accommodations to be more comfortable than the unavoidably cramped ‘bobsled’-type arrangement.
The Mastiff was intended for operations within a gravity field. It lacked maneuvering thrusters, and possessed only three thrusters, one in the backpack and one in each calf. The thrusters were primarily used for assisted leaps, jumps and landings. Operations in zero-G required additional thrusters, propellant and batteries mounted to its hardpoints, as it was powered by an air-breathing high-speed turbine and high-capacity storage batteries.
The Mastiff’s head unit possessed a mast-mounted sensor. It was a slim, telescoping cylinder, lying horizontal, that rotated upward and extended to act as a periscope for observation and targeting while the demi-suit remained concealed. Sensors were also mounted on the shoulders and elsewhere to compensate for loss or blockage of the main sensors in the head unit, such as when large, bulky weapons occupied the shoulder hardpoints.
This particular example appeared to be equipped for dealing with heavy armor. Its primary weapons were the hypervelocity missile pod and the 25mm hypervelocity coilgun. Both rely on kinetic energy to penetrate armour and were thus pretty useless against soft and area targets. With this payload, a demi-suit had a good chance of inflicting serious damage to a heavier unit at close ranges (and even of knocking out the less-protected ones), especially when organized as an ambush team in close country. For soft targets, it relied on a pair of 6mm ‘suppressors,’ small-caliber coilguns capable of sustained automatic fire. Held in the hand was a 35mm coil-launcher using multi-purpose ammunition developed and manufactured by Olin. The projectile was a powerful, proximity-fused explosive charge encased by a shell made of Olin’s own ‘Glacium’ memory alloy. Upon detonation, the ogive forms an EFP with sufficient velocity to penetrate light vehicle armour. Each portion of the pre-segmented sleeve reverts to a flechette airfoil shape traveling fast enough to penetrate infantry hardsuits about half of the time within a 5 meter radius. Mounted on the shoulders were active defense arrays in the form of gimbal-mounted directional mines, effective against infantry and incoming missiles. Upon detonation, these mines also produced a dense smoke formulated to block and interfere with major portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Not shown is the cutter bar wielded by the left hand; this was used for clearing away brush and foliage.