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I have already came up with the pseudoscience to explain how and why the mechs work (they're basically Gundam) but the problem I keep running into is the funding.

An important thing is that everything the mechs use are experimental (guns, swords, jet boosters) so there is a high possibility that they will lose a lot of them costing a few thousands.

My fictitious army has about 8 times the U.S military budget supported by a space faring civilization. There are about 500-ish mechs (200 are in active use while the other 300 are still being put together) and pilots while the rest of the military is about 14 billion, again space.

What can the cost of the mechs be while not spending too much so that other projects and branches don't have issues

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closed as off-topic by Morris The Cat, user535733, jdunlop, Trevor, Gryphon - Reinstate Monica Oct 1 at 18:24

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    $\begingroup$ I assume by "mech" you mean classic "giant mecha" walky-killy things? You should be clear. I think you may also risk your question closed because you're asking a question about the story rather than a question about the world the story is set in... $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Oct 1 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ "Everything the mechs use is experimental" is, fundamentally, not how military R&D (or any R&D really) prefers to work. They prefer to make incremental adaptations of what they already know works - a single new, untested idea that's as self-contained as possible, with as much old tech as possible, specifically to avoid this problem. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Oct 1 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ Also - is your concern for how they got funding for research, how they got funding for production (500 units is not a small production run!), or how they convinced people to actually use them in combat? $\endgroup$ – Cadence Oct 1 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ "costing a few thousands"? I can't imagine the loss of a Gundam-scale mech costing less than a billion dollars. A single B-2 bomber (including R&D cost) is priced at $2B. Even assuming super-science and economies of scale, your materiel costs are off by many orders of magnitude. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Oct 1 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor you will need: one warship, one small fleet of mining and ore processing ships. Shoot the asteroid with a big coilgun. Repeat until reduced to lumps small enough to feed into the ore processors, or the terrorists surrender and come out in emergency spacesuits. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Oct 1 at 19:55
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Maybe there isn't a good reason to fund mecha. It depends on the organization of your society.

For example, one could argue that Knights were a bit dumb in some cases, as an investment. From a practicality point of view, instead of taking one guy, giving him incredible equipment, and a lifetime of training, it might be better to arm and train a bunch of guys pretty well (for example, professional mercenary companies).

So perhaps your star empire (due to the difficulties of light-year distance governance) is a bit more feudal that modern society, and sending the nobility into combat is the best way to get them to fund a retinue.

Another possible driver could be an extended time of (relative) peace, but a very militaristic society. As a result, your military industrial complex - unfettered by the demands of actually waging war - might produce increasingly exotic and relatively untested gear. Perhaps the main drive has shifted from producing effective tools of war, to providing expensive toys for the nobility to look flashy while suppressing peasants. And (presumably this is important for your plot) the mecha aren't ineffective - they're just less effective than a couple thousand tanks would have been.

In the interest of generality, I want to point out that the unparalleled empire's soldiers being more suited for stuff other than war is somewhat of a well known trope. It gives a feeling of corruption/decline/oppression - who are these guys gearing up to fight? Are they really a legitimate army, if they aren't optimized to fight near peers? It also reflects some concerns that we might have with our military industrial complex.

Finally it provides either a convenient excuse for why there's only one supersoldier (for the main character to play -- I think they used this in Halo) who has to go on heroic adventures. Or it provides an excuse for why the baddies are so incompetent at war, which allows your ragtag band of heroes to beat them (possibly by combining the enemy's flashy gear with True Heroic Fighting Spirit).

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  • $\begingroup$ I love that expensive toys idea! I want my mech with real synthetic fur! And a gun that fires rubber ducks. $\endgroup$ – Willk Oct 1 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ Knights weren't a dumb idea. Medieval Europe was a depopulated region compared to either more recent time periods or Rome. If you raised a lot of reasonably equipped/trained man-at-arms you would suffer from lack of manpower in the fields and in the guilds so, a few well trained/well equipped warriors instead of many avarage warriors made sense. $\endgroup$ – Geronimo Oct 1 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ Have to agree, Knights weren't dumb. They were basically medieval tanks. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Oct 1 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ Possibly knights weren't a great example. I was thinking that, while heavy cavalry is undoubtedly useful, tying the role to a specific position in the nobility is not. My point was sometimes a military is restricted to irrational resource allocation because of other (political or economic) concerns. I dunno, would Ancient Greek generals in the style of the Illiad be a better example? Maybe the F-35 project! $\endgroup$ – Zwuwdz Oct 1 at 23:00
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Try and name me one thing that looks better on parade than giant bipedal mechs. It also makes you look like a forerunner in military technology to the general masses. So some form of totalitarian militaristic regime with a vested interest in sending propaganda to both it's people and external populations, that is also very wealthy. Think North Korea except with Liechtensteins money. (Though 500 is really a huge number. For comparison total number of armatas currently ordered is below 200 iirc and that is a new generation MBT)

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  • $\begingroup$ The star empire in this case is more like the US, though -- at least in terms of military expenditure. They have 8x our budget and 10x our personnel. North Korea has more like ~equal number of active military and a budget of 1/100th of the US budget. So it probably makes more sense to compare the equipment to US stuff. Over 10k M1 Abrams were produced. Around 200 F-22's were produced. So on a per-troop level, these Mecha are about 4x as rare as our best jets, much more rare than our tanks. $\endgroup$ – Zwuwdz Oct 1 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ I meant North Korea as an example for the political and societal climate, not the economic strength. And for the numbers is why I brought up the Armata, russias newest cutting edge main battle tank, of which iirc there are supposed to only be about 200 by 2021. So for an unproven, highly experimental, very expensive new high-tech equipment 500 to me seems like a lot as an initial production run. $\endgroup$ – lidar Oct 1 at 18:53
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The space environment is very rich in resources, from abundant solar energy (especially closer to the Sun), and mineral resources from the various moons and asteroids. Water is common, with Europa alone having about 3 X the water resources of Earth. It rains natural gas on Titan, and enough 3He exists in the atmosphere of Uranus to run an industrial civilization of fusion power for millenia.

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Europa. There are 67 other moons orbiting Jupiter alone

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Titan

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Uranus system

So we have massive resources and apparently a huge population. The OP says 14 billion, over twice the population of Earth today (although I was not clear if there are 14 billion people or a military of 14 billion, this wasn't worded clearly). So the capital resources and number of taxpayers capable of funding a large R&D program also exists.

While a run of 500 experimental units does not really make a lot of sense (there would be a few prototypes being tested in various environments), the real issue here is there are no real funding constraints at all for the Space civilization to do these sorts of things. One would hope they spend their time and resources doing more productive things, like building interstellar lasers to power long distance starships, or terraforming Mars, but if there is some sort of hobby group which want's to LARP giant mecha stories, then the resources are actually there for them to do so.

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