Combat Jacket
combat jacket
Image from Steve Bowers
Wearable Multi-gun platform for versatile personal offensive/defensive operations.
As weaponry developed throughout the Interplanetary and Nanotech Ages military equipment became far more specialised. Typical campaigns would be fought in and on sea, land and air (and later subterranean, space and cyberspace) with a huge variety of tactical situations. Armies became highly specialised organisms prioritising communication and tactical oversight to be as effective as possible. As specialisation grew the logistical, tactical and strategic challenges grew exponentially. Increasingly sophisticated military AIs were developed but these could only help so far, entire battles could be quickly lost as the enemy destroyed a critical asset resulting in a quick succession of defeats of units now lacking the necessary support.

To counter this various nations and corporations began R&D projects focusing on increasing the capabilities of individual soldiers (though various transapients used bizarre chaotic tactics to make increasingly complex yet increasingly stronger armies). This lead to a spate of multi-role training and weaponry, one of the most significant developments was that of the Combat Jacket. Resembling a thick hooded coat a Combat Jacket (CJ) is composed of an outer layer of reactive armour weave protecting an inner layer of programmable gel fibres. Within the inner layer a suite of weaponry is to be found that can quickly be moved about the jacket by the gel fibres before being deployed on telescopic, fully prehensile tendrils through orifices that can be formed at any point along the outer layer. The loadout of CJs can vary greatly, below is an example of a typical balanced suite from the early First Federation era:

- 1x Stun batton.
- 1x Boomstick.
- 8x Adjustable Memory Blade.
- 1x Electrolaser - 4x 10KW Multi-spectrum lasers
- 2x 5mm Automatic kinetic projectile guns [1].
- 2x Short range dusters.
- 1x Heavy metal squirt.
- 1x 15mm Gauss cannon - 1x Particle cannon.
- 40x Hunter/killer explosive darts [2].
- 8x 40mm Rocket guided ACER rounds
- Full suite of cyberwarfare programs
- 200 Nanoflex origami drones
- 1000 synsect drones (various designs: flying, crawling, swimming, burrowing etc)
- Multi-channel communications array
- Multi-spectrum sensor/scanner suite
- Computronium chips hosting tactical AI
- Nanomedical First Aid Kit.
- Superconductive energy storage cells.
- Multiple Uber-widget toolkit
- Deployable Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, Nanotechnological (NBCN) suit

To operate a CJ soldiers had to undergo extensive training to deal with the increased tactical know-how of using so many different weapons all at the same time. Many soldiers failed CJ training programs without extensive intelligent augmentation via military DNIs that granted increased multitasking capability as well as causing a synergistic fusion of the soldier and on-board tactical AI during combat.

Whilst CJs offered a great advance in infantry tactics they found themselves constantly in competition with ever increasingly sophisticated mechs (including wearable exosuits) and cyborgs, both far better platforms for multi-weapon loadouts by including them in artificial/augmented minds/bodies that are fit-for-purpose. In addition super-specialised armies formed by transapients that seem to be immune to the perils of modosophont specialisation, indeed taking out a critical asset will just cause a protean change strengthening the army against further attack.

The development of utility fog based swarm weapons such as Active Polymorphic Defences were the nail in the coffin for CJs and indeed almost all modosophont infantry. Having said this throughout history CJs have seen use in various wars in midtech civilisations and still are favoured in many societies for personal defence and/or sporting reasons.

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Development Notes
Text by Ryan B
Initially published on 10 March 2012.