The MJOLNIR Project
From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
In Halsey's mind, creating the Spartans was simply not enough. Early on, she had already realized what the UNSC would eventually come to discover. In order to create a military force powerful enough to end the threat of civil war, she would need more than a soldier, she would need a machine. Thus, parallel with the SPARTAN-II program, Halsey created something else, something which would strengthen and protect these critical assets beyond anything which had come before: a top secret program called MJOLNIR. While the end result became a masterful work of military science, MJOLNIR had humble beginnings in the early 26th century. The first three iterations of the powered assault armor were in fact exoskeletons, similar to loaders and dock vehicles. Their speed and strength outstripped most expectations, but they were ultimately encumbered with their size and inability to function without a separate power supply. Halsey's improvements to these precursors culminated in the fourth iteration of armor, bearing the project name MJOLNIR. During this time, she relinquished the tempting incremental modifications to the armor, and instead scheduled full generational upgrades, integrating multiple improvements into each Mark version. Mark IV, for example, was far different in design than anything which had come before it. It was fully tested and fielded by Spartans as early as November, 2525. It was compact, slick and revolutionary, but only capable of being used by augmented human beings. Interestingly enough, it was at that time the threat of the Covenant surfaced. The aliens had initiated a campaign to destroy every human world, and the Spartans were the only thing strong enough to stop it. The design of the MJOLNIR Mark IV armor saw several physical changes throughout the decades which followed, and would prove priceless as the Spartans effectively engaged the Covenant forces in numerous theaters of war for nearly thirty years. In August, 2552, the Spartans would shed their Mark IV armor in exchange for Mark V, the next stage of this remarkable technology.
A common misconception with the various iterations—or "Marks"—of MJOLNIR armor is that the physical architecture of the suit separates each stage into visibly distinctive groups. But this is not the case. MJOLNIR successive iterations are largely defined by its internal components and the software suit housed within its framework, elements which are somewhat irrelevant to the physical shape it takes. This can be seen in the Mark V and Mark VI versions deployed in the fall of 2552, as various simultaneous projects required different customizations. While all had widely unique purposes, each remained faithful to MJOLNIR's core technology and goals. On Earth, several UNSC testing facilities generated a variation of the Mark VI, which was codenamed CQB—Close Quarters Battle armor—and was intended to improve the user's ability to survive and react in close quarters combat scenarios. At the other end of the spectrum was EVA, Extra-Vehicular Activity armor. Tested in the classified military facility on Ganymede, it was specifically crafted for space operations and combat engagements within a vacuum. The Grenadier prototype was based on a Mark IV design, upgraded for the role of heavy weapon specialist. And when Project GUNGNIR was developing the M6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle, a companion MJOLNIR-based armor system was developed alongside it. Hence the name Spartan Laser. After the activation of the MJOLNIR Mark IV, the Damascus Materials Testing Facility began crafting an armor specifically suited for improving the likelihood of survival within proximity to a deadly explosion, something they referred to as EOD, or Explosive Ordnance Disposal armor. Some have speculated that this effort was in response to an incident which occurred immediately after the Mark IV went live in 2525, when newly clad Spartans fended off a Covenant ship preparing to attack Chi Ceti IV, destroying the vessel at the cost of one of their own. Whatever the reason, both EOD and the alternate Hazard Op suit would present a solution for missions of extreme environmental risk and danger. At a top secret testing facility in Swanbourne, two unique armor types were commissioned by the Office of Naval Intelligence with the Mark VI's framework: Scout and Recon. ONI's intent was to create a significantly specialized version, better suited for infiltration deep into enemy territory. These alongside the highly classified Operator model would afford Beta-5 commissioned Spartans all the tools they'd need in the field. The UNSC would leverage MJOLNIR's immense power on the ground with variants like Commando, JFO, and Security. And in the sky, with both Pilot and Air Assault models, all versatile and all fully equipped to engage the enemy in battle, wherever that enemy might be... While these and other variations provided a massive platform for the MJOLNIR technology across various theaters of war, ironically the most critical suit was the Master Chief's. A standard version of Mark VI armor which protected him until the very end as he brought the bitter conflict with the Covenant to a close.