|This article, Project NAEGLING, is currently under active construction.|
Under Doctor Catherine Halsey, the MJOLNIR Mark IV Program saw spectacular successes, both in their deployment with the SPARTAN-II Program operators they were designed for and in the development of powered armour technologies. At the same time, however, it eclipsed other projects begun by Naval Special Warfare, and other military research and development teams, to create their own powered armour projects. The chief drawback of the MJOLNIR Program was that it was extremely specialised - they could only be worn by SPARTAN-II or III personnel, for example, and neither the Army or Marine Corps did not wish to create Spartan-grade special warfare operators. Nor could they afford it - construction costs alone for a mere forty suits of MJOLNIR Mark IV was roughly equaivalent to a small UNSC Navy Battlegroup, and maintenance costs were a constant source of harrassment for the projects ONI backers. The MJOLNIR Project practically bankrupted ONI until the results of its investment began to pay off. The outstanding performance of the MJOLNIR-equipped SPARTAN-II's would see FLEETCOM dramatically increase the research and development budget.
This benefitted other projects as well. Although funded by ONI Section III, Naval Special Weapons Development, Project NAEGLING was started in 2535intended to provide the UNSC Army with a powered exoskeleton to rival, if not the MJOLNIR Project, then the cheaper but overlooked VAJRA-I Project. Many of its personnel had been reassigned, more than half to the MJOLNIR Project where they would develop upgrades and improvements to the Mark IV and eventually the Mark V, but NAEGLING managed to gather remaining ex-VAJRA personnel, including project leader Arthur Falkner and metamaterial experts Moriko Yoko and Alyosha Timofey. Initially, the project was run concurrently with the HRUNTING and YGGDRASIL projects, which produced an extremely effective prototype in 2542, but the destruction of both projects and the prototype itself when the Algolis colony fell saw NAEGLING become the Army's sole hope of developing powered assault exoskeletons. Eventually, seeing little in the way of tenable results, NavSpecWep agreed to transfer oversight to the UNSC Army Corps of Engineers in 2545. Now separate from Naval oversight and resources, NAEGLING would make surprisingly rapid progress, producing a number of demonstration models for Army observers. By 2551, seven prototypes were developed of a final model, the Naegling-XIX, a powered assault armour system designed for providing ground forces with highly mobile heavy firepower, specialising in anti-infantry and anti-armour operations but with anti-air capability. Field testing was conducted on Reach in July, 2552, and the prototypes were shipped to Earth for additional development before scheduled for deployment.
The Fall of Reach, and the subsequent devastation of Earth and other UNSC strongholds in the Solar System, would delay the introduction of the NAEGLING into service, and only after the conclusion of the war did the UNSC Army adopt them for select special warfare groups. In the post-war reconstruction period, NAEGLING suits would assist in the consolidation of remaining UNSC territory, providing heavy firepower to Army and Marine warfighters on Europa and Titan against Insurrectionist uprisings. Other operations were classified, though it is suspected that they were deployed in a number of engagements against Kig-Yar pirate bases and the fledgling Blood Covenant. During the War of Vengeance, the NAEGLING would be refined further, incorporating advanced made in the fields of directed energy weaponry and energy shielding, including rudimentary solid light barrier generators. By the war's end, the NAEGLING had gained a fearsome reputation among the Jiralhanae for its destructiveness, nicknamed "Vrathek's Hammers" - named after a Jiralhanae demon spirit.
- Arthur Falkner - project leader. Born in New Zealand in 2511, Falkner studied at Otag University and recieved a Bachelor of Science, specialising in mathematics and computer programming. Initially interested in AI development in Sydney, he was contracted by the Navy as project leader for Project VAJRA. After the collapse of VAJRA, Falkner accepted a lecturing post at Victoria University before quitting to take part in Project NAEGLING under the Navy again, and then under the Army.
- Moriko Yoko -
- Alyosha Timofey
- Mark I - the initial demonstration model, the Mark I was intended to show the basic internal layout and method of locomotion, using reaction-enhancing liquid crystals in tandem with mechanised pistons to move the limbs of the suit. Problems with suit/operator synchronisation hindered development, but were eventually smoothed out by 2536.
- Mark II-VI - Though it retained the same basic outline and frame, versions two through to six saw some radical redesigns, such as the amount of liquid crystal, alteration to the design philosophy itself, and the incorporation of Project EXCALIBUR-derived improvements.
- Mark VII -
- Mark VIII -
- Mark IX-XI -
- Mark XII -
- Mark XIII - extensive redesigns of the external armour systems and internal hardware would result in a radically different shape than its predecessors, taller, narrower and with a smaller target profile. At the same time, the new model made use of newly-developed materials from Project EXCALIBUR to improve the suit's weight, energy efficiency, and drastically improve mobility. Several planned features, such as XR447 Rocket Thrusters and a shoulder-mounted RG13 Railgun, were dropped at the last minute for performance concerns.
- Mark XIX
- Mark XIX X1-7 - the production model, approval for field testing was given to the NAEGLING Mk. XIX in February, 2552, with the testing conducted in July at HIGHCOM Armoury Omega on Reach. Deemed a success, the seven prototype suits were shipped to Earth for further fitting at the Songnam Special Warfare Facility. The onset of the Battle of Earth would see elements of the local UNSC Marine Corps and United Korean Armed Forces engage Covenant forces at the spaceport - stumbling across the suits, they quickly managed to turn the tide of the battle against the Covenant, though three were lost to Wraith fire.
- Mark XIX A - after the official conclusion of the war in 2553, HIGHCOM gave approval for production of more of the NAEGLING suits. With resources at an all-time low, and the industrial centres of Mars devastated by the Covenant, production was carried out by the Bellum Aerospace Industry factories in Texas, URNA. The initial production run of seven was also the only production run, as elements of Project EXCALIBUR rendered elements of the design out of date. Subsequent improvements would produce the Mark XX.
- Mark XX
- Mark XX A - produced in 2557, the Mark XX series differ from the Mark XIX in the inclusion of the LXV77-GG DEW as its heavy armament, replacing the XG3 Gauss Rifle, as well as the incorporation of Solid Light Barriers into the design for improved survivability. Although still limited to ten, the Mark XX's would become infamous throughout the Blood Covenant for their effectiveness, earning the nickname "Vrathek's Hammers."
- Mark XX B - an update to the Mark XX A, the B series were produced in 2564 and improved on several areas where the Mark XX A had been found lacking, especially in suit-wearer synchronisation, improvements to the SLB generators, and in general improving the performance of the suit. Continued to serve throughout the Second Great War against New Covenant/Governors of Contrition forces.
- Project VAJRA - although shut down in 2528, many of its personnel and resources were reapplied to NAEGLING when the latter was activated. Although the VAJRA-II subsection of MJOLNIR use the name, NAEGLING is a much better candidate to be considered VAJRA's successor program.
- Project EXCALIBUR - initially under the oversight umbrella of NavSpecWep's Project EXCALIBUR, a long-term modernisation project, the NAEGLING Project was eventually reassigned to the UNSC Army Corps of Engineers.
- Project VAJRA-II - although the MJOLNIR Program as a whole fell under the purview of Doctor Halsey, VAJRA-II was a small subsection tasked by ONI on parallel developments of experimental or prototypical material and equipment for the armour systems worn by Indigo Team and other secret Spartan-II and III operators. Cooperation resulted in the incorporation of force-amplifying crystal technology into parts of the NAEGLING Mk. I, though in far more limited amounts than the MJOLNIR series.
- Project ARONDIGHT - developed by NavSpecWep for use by the UNSC Marine Corps, it would eventually be merged with NAEGLING before it was transferred to the Army chain of command. Many of NAEGLING's current naval personnel were originally part of ARONDIGHT.
- "You see a couple of these take to the field and you know the Covenant are in for a world of hurt!"
- "Only seven of the Mark Nineteen were ever produced, but if you add the ten Mark Twenty models added to the retrofitted Mark Nineteens, that brings the count up to seventeen. I doubt they'll ever become regular infantry gear, but they're great for SpecOps!"
- "When you compare it to the MJOLNIR, its looks pathetic. But then you realise that the standards for MJOLNIR are so high that anything will look pathetic if you compare it. It doesn't have the thrusters of the HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL prototype, and it lacks the missile launchers, but its still a fantastic weapon!"