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I am writing a fiction draft about a main character who happens to be transported into another world as the leader of his main faction in an RTS game he used to play. The background of his RTS faction is that it is entirely made of super soldiers by past human scientists to fight against various hordes, monsters, titans, and gods. Think of it like a whole army made of Halo Master Chiefs.

But I want them to be more like a modern army rather than just over-the-top super soldiers from other fiction. So I began to search and read about various tech, be it experimental or just a conceptual, including various modern firearms and armor, and so on.

Then I got stuck on armored vehicles and tanks. My soldiers still have power suits, but tanks have more firepower and durability and can act as armored personnel carriers (APC) for quick deployment, so I began to think, "Well, I can just scale up some modern ones or copy some from one famous franchise space marine," but that felt cheap.

So here is the problem I'm facing:

  • What kind of tank/armor would super soldiers use?
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    $\begingroup$ Could you provide some specifications for your super-soldiers? Your modern soldier carries a 100 lb pack and fights with 16lbs of armor. What's our weight limit? How big a gun can they effectively aim and shoot? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ (a) You are allowed to ask one and only one question. Asking multiple questions is literally a reason to vote to close questions. I edited out question #1 because it was so blatantly not the question you spent the entire post talking about. It's not only OK to post as many questions as you need, it's both preferred and required. (b) You don't explain anything about your super soldiers or their needs. What makes them super? Not including relevant data is also a reason to vote to close (VTC:Needs Details or Clarity). Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:50

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The nature of a Tank

I'm going to answer your questions in reverse - focussing on the Tank element, because I think that will help you understand the meta-answer. Currently, there is a lot of talk by some people in regards to a certain current conflict where one side has taken a significant number of Tank losses due to Man portable AT Rockets (N-Law, Javelin etc.).

The current talk is 'The tank is dead!' - this generates the counterpoint (which is why I raise it) - which is what a Tank does for a Military is not 'being a tank'.

What a Tank does is be

  • Mobile
  • Protected
  • Firepower

Mobile - it can go other places relatively quickly, with tracks it can go places wheeled vehicles cannot.

Protected - It can stop small arms fire, stop certain types of Armour Piercing rounds etc. The best example of this in the modern era (not including Ukraine...) - is the Challenger 2 used by the British Army face-tanking (heh...) something like 70 RPG rockets and survived.

Firepower - Tanks have a pretty big gun. Not the biggest on the Battlefield - but a 120mm shell is a damn good way to get someones attention. Not to mention Pintle/cuppola mounts for various types of Machine Gun.

'That's all very nice - it doesn't answer my question!' - Hold your Horses....

Speaking of Horses, there's a reason why in the US, Tankers are part of the Cavalry units - because historically - Mobile, Protected Firepower was the role of your heavy Cavalry.

My point is therefore: An Army will always require Something that is more Mobile than a Human (even one in super powered armour), More protected than a Human (ditto) and able to carry a bigger gun than a human (again...)

This is the 'role' of a Tank.

Think about your scenario - what sort of Mobility do you need, what degree of protection do you need and what sort of Firepower do you need?

For swarm-type enemies - Higher Mobility, lower Armour and Area-of-effect Weaponary (Flame tanks) would be what was needed. Fast enough to get out of trouble, lightly armoured because a single swarming enemy isn't an issue, but getting caught but 1,000 of them because you were too heavy to evade is and issue. And Weaponary is pretty self-explanatory.

For a Titan-type enemy - I'd look to something like the Swedish S-Tank - very low visibility, with a very sloped front glacis and a big gun. An Ambush predator - Hide from the Titan, unleash several rounds in quick succession, then scoot.

Taking those together - Mobility and Firepower is going to be the biggest aspects that the tank designers are going to spec into. Possibly using a common-chassis design and being able to quickly (1-2 hours) swap out turrets depending on the threat, or possibly using something like the BMP-2 (where there was a 105mm cannon and a 30mm cannon mounted together - one for 'hard' targets like other tanks, the other for 'soft' targets like bunkers and infanry)

The same applies to your infantry

That is - you want them protected enough that they can survive and have a weapons loadout that is mixed enough to deal with the majority threat they are likely to face, but with enough bang to give an unexpected adversary a bloody-nose before retreating.

e.g. a Swarm-killing squad would still have a couple of man-portable Anti-Titan weapons and a couple of other heavy weapons - so if they encounter one, they can give it something to think about whilst they retreat/call in the specialist support units. and Vice Versa.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is getting into the weeds of "the tank is dead" argument, but drone, missile, and other ranged options get you a lot of that capacity: high firepower and mobility no human can duplicate. The "protected" bit is where these options fall short. War is, sometime unintuitively, as much about controlling ground as killing the enemy. Controlling ground can be done with tanks but also infantry, so it's unclear how much super soldiers can take up that control function and armored capacity $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ @PipperChip - it definitely is, but the 'Tank is Dead' argument really does a good job of highlighting what a Tank does. I'm certain in the future the current iteration of a Tank will be supplanted by something that fulfills the same functions as a Tank, but being dissimilar to a current 'Tank' - getting the author to think about the function and then letting their imagination derive the form is what I was getting at. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ The first time the "tank is dead" argument came up was with the invention of the attack helicopter. An Apache attack helicopter can shrug off small arms and blow up fortified positions from a long distance just like a tank, but it is much faster and harder to pin down... that said, it never actually supplanted the tank because it could not control ground or be as sneaky as a tank. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 21:20
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Maybe They Wouldn't Use Vehicles at All

I'm kind of thinking of Starship Troopers (moreso the book than the movie) but it's a common sci-fi trope: once you have powered armor, vehicles mostly get in the way, except purely as a long range delivery device, often in the form of a drop pod or drop ship. Extra true if the power armor features its own improved mobility, carry capacity, and firepower (which typically all comes with the "powered suit" moniker).

We already have single shot, hand-carried weapons capable of rivaling a tank round so depending on how bulky your suits want to get, having a number of such shots available in a dropped platoon should be sufficient, and may simply make it not worthwhile to bother with the overhead of a tank.

The tank's main purpose has always been "I have brought a cannon that you can't kill with small arms fire" but a single super-soldier in powered armor is likely already meeting that metric. He doesn't need a cannon. He is a cannon, and a highly mobile one. With his jump-jets and/or super-speed, a big lumbering tank may simply slow him down.

In summary, you'd have to think about what role such vehicles would even play. Artillery vehicles would probably still have uses (unless replaced by orbital bombardment...), but I believe the arrival of the powered armor super-soldier may spell the end of the tank simply because its niche has been replaced. Extra true if modern battlefield "weapon vs armor" balance has held true, and you simply can't armor a tank enough to defeat weapons that a soldier can carry.

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  • $\begingroup$ Paraphrasing - The tank as we know it becomes more of an Overcoat for the supersoldier, proviing extra fuel/batteries like an fighter airplane's drop-tank. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 1:57
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Frame shift

Unless your super-soldiers are so tough that they don't need armor, you'll want to scale your weapons and armor based on the opponents, not on the people wielding them. If a gun goes straight through your enemy, then having a bigger gun doesn't do you any good. Having someone hip-fire a 50-cal might look cool, but you don't want to be shooting it at people. It's a waste of ammo.

If your armor currently stops horde claws, you aren't doing yourself a favor by making it thicker.

The exception to this is going to be ammo capacity. You might be able to have your super-soldiers actually carry and fire a mini-gun, for instance, because they'd be able to walk around with the battery pack and more than a couple of seconds worth of ammunition. Generally speaking, though, this would slow people down too much to be beneficial.

The big difference you'd see would be in mobility. Unless your super-soldiers can outrun a car, you'll still want jeeps and hummers to carry most of the equipment, but your super-soldier would be able to walk around with the M2 Browning instead of having to fire it from the top of the APC.

You might be able to take advantage of this combination by having a supe carry a grenade launcher to the top of a hill and carpeting the incoming horde with flechette grenades.

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The Guns

Sounds to me like these boys need big guns. You have some options when it comes to facing such a wide variety of opponents. IRL, Weapons generally do one of a few things to inflict damage:

  • Rapid rate of fire, low mass shots (such as machine guns)
  • Low rate of fire, higher mass shots (such as sniper rifles, cannons, tank main guns, artillery)
  • Using shockwaves to deal damage (grenades, artillery, modern missiles)

These super soldiers need the right weapon for the job. It could be reasonable for them to have their "light" weapon be a rapid-rate-of-fire weapon but have either a "heavy" thing as a backup or explosives of one sort or another. Many modern infantry units have diverse loadouts of weapons for similar reasons.

The Nature of War

It can vary from guerrilla warfare to open war. It sounds like this is more the open war style, though. In any case, consider that super soldiers may be expensive, and we humans like killing things from a distance.

It could be possible that missiles, artillery, and other long-range take care of the bulk of the opposing force, and the soldiers take care of things that make it out of that barrage. This does mean that they could (theoretically) call in air support or very heavy artillery when ammo is low or something quite large comes their way. To this can be due to the economics of the situation: it is more cost effective to field an artillery cannon than a super soldier.

Sci-Fi Twists

Maybe you don't have tanks anymore. They are not great in urban settings due to cover and basements. Maybe you replace that with the capacity for airstrikes, ammo deliveries, or drone deliveries/escapades.

Maybe you also overcome mobility issues with things like jetpacks, ranging from Titainfall-like boosters to Warhammer 40k space Marines with jetpacks. The sky is the limit here, and unique to your world.

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  • $\begingroup$ As a note, I assumed this was modern to near-future Sci-Fi and therefore kept my answer as broadly applicable as I could $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 17:10

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