Materials Group is a division of the Office of Naval Intelligence that is responsible for researching, developing, and manufacturing technologically advanced matériel. The Materials Group's most important development has been the design of the MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor and the powered exoskeletons which preceded it, as well as several specialized variant models.
During the early years of the Insurrection in the late 25th century, Materials Group developed the X23 Non-Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse Cannon, which was designed to disable weapons of mass destruction before detonation. Though this technology had existed since the 20th century, the X23 was the first truly precise application of the technology. Once Materials Group deemed that the X23 was a viable tool, it was mounted on a transport chassis; this resulted in the creation of the XRP12 Combat Support Vehicle, commonly known as the Gremlin.
In 2511, Dr. Catherine Halsey began designing a powered combat suit to complement the Orion Project, Generation II, which would later become the SPARTAN-II program. Materials Group, which had been experimenting powered exoskeletons for at least eleven years, was tasked with developing this system at CASTLE Base on Reach. Materials Group began with the Mark I exoskeleton, which had entered development in 2500; this exoskeleton allowed the wearer to lift nearly two tons and to run at 32 km/h (19.88 mph) for an extended period of time, featured advanced tactical computers that could provide real-time data to the wearer's standard neural interface, and was armed with an integrated 30mm minigun. However, the Mark I proved too large and cumbersome, its need to be physically tethered to a power generator, and its potentially fatal hypersensitivity to the user's movement resulted in its abandonment.
After the failure of the Mark I, the Materials Group developed the Mark II exoskeleton. The Mark II was considerably slimmer than the Mark I, featured refractive coating for dispersing heat, and possessed improved self-sealing mechanisms for protection against vacuum, though it also had to be tethered to a power source. Thus, the Mark II was also abandoned.
Materials Group then attempted to improve the Mark III exoskeleton, which had been introduced the previous year. Though the Mark III did not have to be physically tethered to a power source, it had to receive broadcast power, similar to an orbital defense platform and its remote generators, and thus still had limited functional range. Furthermore, if the exoskeleton's power flow was disrupted, the operator would become trapped inside. While the Mark III represented a considerable improvement over the two previous models, it was also abandoned. Halsey and Materials Group then accepted that all three exoskeletons were limited by their power sources and would prove impractical in combat.
MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor
Smitten by the perceived failures of the Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III exoskeletons, Halsey decided to completely overhaul the program, starting Project: MJOLNIR. Materials Group was then reassigned to this project, which Halsey felt was the realization of the powered armor program's overall goals. The team abandoned the "Mark" system used when developing the exoskeletons, as Halsey wished to distance herself and the project from past failures. MJOLNIR, rather than being a bulky powered exoskeleton, would be a self-contained, nearly form-fitting body suit; it would augment the wearer's physical abilities to superhuman levels, though it would require dangerous genetic modification to function safely. The first iteration of MJOLNIR was developed at Materials Group's Damascus Materials Testing Facility on Chi Ceti IV, and was introduced to the recently graduated Spartans on November 27, 2525.
Halsey intended for MJOLNIR to remain a single, continuous system that would be incrementally updated as upgrades became available. However, in 2535 Materials Group mandated that subsequent iterations of MJOLNIR be released in distinct stages as a means of fiscal oversight; thus, against Halsey's wishes, the original version of MJOLNIR was retroactively named the Mark IV, suggesting continuity with the long-abandoned Mark I, II, and III exoskeletons. Materials Group continued to develop the main MJOLNIR series, resulting in several superficially distinct versions which, despite their drastically different appearances, were all classified as the Mark IV due to their internal architecture.
On November 24, 2551, the Mark V generation was introduced. This version featured energy shielding technology, which was previously thought to be impossible to reverse-engineer from Covenant technology. It also introduced the ability to accommodate a starship-grade smart artificial intelligence. In late 2552, the Mark VI was introduced. Though it offered few groundbreaking improvements over the Mark V, aside from an automated biofoam injection system, numerous components were refined, making the Mark VI among the most powerful pieces of technology ever created by humanity.
Following the end of the Human-Covenant War the Mark VI was quickly replaced by MJOLNIR GEN2. While the MJOLNIR Mark VII was produced it was not as cost effective or versatile as the GEN2 platform.
In addition to the main MJOLNIR series, Materials Group developed several purpose-specific variants. Though several other variants have been produced, they were designed by private defense contractors, not by Materials Group.
List of appearances