The Saab Skeggox demonstrated that, despite being considered a second-rank political entity, groups such as the Midgard Union were still capable of turning out first-class weapons of war. Developed and manufactured entirely by Saab and its subcontractors, the Skeggox proved to be quite the popular export item, with customers consisting mostly of small states and independent military contractors. The LOH had recently taken delivery of three battalions’ worth for evaluation. Given the League designation of ‘Piranha’, these were reported to be in use with the 56th Expeditionary Regiment on the heavily forested world of Morwood.
Named after the Viking bearded axe, the Skeggox was designed to be a powerful, yet flexible, multi-purpose demi-suit for the assault role. It was liberally sprinkled with universal hardpoints fully compliant with League weapons standards. Armour was a multilayered affair composed of carbon nanotube & superconducting matrices sandwiched between a carefully arranged mix of advanced rigid cermets & soft polyamides with built-in ‘intelligent’ features. The pilot was seated entirely within the torso, which features extra-thick frontal armour. While there had been criticism regarding its rather exposed hip joints, these areas can be protected with little loss of movement by additional armour attached to its groin hardpoints. Another criticism was its large size and weight, towering over and out-bulking most other demi-suits. Saab claimed, though, that its larger size permitted it to carry heavier, more powerful weaponry, its thicker armour offset its larger profile and its quick-change powerpack gave it operational endurance comparable to other late-generation demi-suits.
As is, the Skeggox lacked any internal weapons other than its turret-mounted variable laser and its countermeasures dispenser. The laser had multiple frequency settings and could be fired as a pulse or a continuous beam, with a proportionate increase in power consumption. The dispensers were usually loaded with anti-sensor screening grenades for defensive purposes. The hand weapon most commonly associated with it was the Bofors SG-45R, a 25mm hypervelocity coilgun with an underslung 75mm bomblet-launcher.
Unusually, for a demi-suit serving in the 56th, the example depicted in the illustration was lightly armed, with no anti-infantry weaponry other than its turret laser. Other than the Bofors hand weapon, it is equipped with the UF-70, a turreted, semi-automatic 70mm plasma tube designed for long-range accuracy. Even though it showed signs of wear, this particular demi-suit didn’t seem to have come under significant hostile fire, either.
The Bofors weapon was similar to the real-life FN P-90 in appearance only. While, in the P-90, the feed mouth portion was at the rear, this was reversed in the SG-45R. This really had no function other than to facilitate magazine loading. The magazine holder rotates 90 degrees to the side and, being located at the front half of the weapon, made the magazine easier to manipulate with the demi-suit’s other hand. This was particularly significant for demi-suits with thick frontal armour, such as the Skeggox. As for the magazine itself, the ammo feed was at the rear while the front end, which plugged into the rotating holder, served as the power conduit. The weapon’s buttplate served as a clamp for securing the magazine firmly in position.
Skeggox, Fully Equipped
This particular example, from the 56th Expeditionary Regiment on Morwood, was very well-equipped, having been fitted with heavy armour and weaponry suitable for action at the forefront. It appeared to have seen much action, judging from the dirt and wear, but did not appear to have taken any substantial hits.
One benefit of the Skeggox’s large size was its ability to use the smaller weapons packages designed for light mobile suits, such as the five-round hypervelocity missile launcher mounted on its shoulder. Properly used, this gives the Skeggox a potent anti-MS capability, especially from ambush or in terrain unfavourable to larger vehicles.
Mounted on the left forearm was a 7mm twin repeater coilgun. It is capable of sustained, fully automatic fire, and usually served as an infantry suppression and anti-mine weapon.
The appliqué armor panels protecting torso, groin and upper legs were constructed out of metal foam layers with a low-density ablative foaming agent sandwiched with polyamide/fullerene matrices and held within a rigid cermet composite shell with iridium alloy backing. These could be selectively jettisoned in the event of an emergency, such as the need to lighten weight, loss of power to the hatch mechanism or severe damage to specific panels. The armour panels protecting the groin were quite substantial—-they also housed a pair of Active Defense Arrays. Some of the armour panels were also fitted with MFO sensor pick-ups, to compensate for any sensors on the Skeggox blocked by the armour.
The Active Defense Arrays/Close-In Weapons System mounted in the groin armour and the legs are functionally similar to the 21st Century AD ‘MetalStorm’ system. They were controlled by the demi-suit’s onboard AI and, at its command, would unleash a volley of mimetic-alloy ring airfoil projectiles at high velocities to defeat incoming threats such as rockets, guided missiles and hostile infantry.
Also mounted on the legs were a pair of 70mm missile launchers. Each launcher could hold six of the LOH standard 70mm modular warhead type, and could salvo-fire three missiles at a time. They also mounted their own target acquisition systems in lieu of the Skeggox’s own.
The PAGS unit was an integrated passive-active ground sensor suite, the hardpoint-mounted equivalent of the standard equipment found in most of the larger, front-line units. It used seismic detectors, ultrasonic & infrasonic emitters and magnetometers combined with dedicated computing hardware & software to map the immediate terrain and detect underground anomalies such as buried landmines. This could be done with satisfactory accuracy during normal walking movement.
The depicted Skeggox also sported a pair of extra ‘feet,’ with contour-following functions. This served to reduce its ground pressure and increase its overall stability.