Powered armour is special infantry armour that relies on internal servomotors, instead of human muscles, for mobility. Such a design allows more powerful weaponry and thicker layers of armour. The first successful development of powered armor was the assault suit. Zone Troopers, Zone Raiders and Black Hand Flame Troopers use powered armor only that the Zone Raiders and Zone Troopers can survive in Tiberium while Black Hand wore cloaks.
Powered Armor was mainly developed by the GDI. Nod focused on cybernetics instead which GDI found abhorrent.
The origin of powered armor can be traced back to near the end of the First Tiberium War, where Ignatio Mobius's Assault suit was used for protection against Tiberium and in combat. Following the war, GDI researched into this technology, resulting in the development of the X-O Powersuit.
By the Second Tiberium War, the Wolverine, a development of the X-O Powersuit, had become a standard feature in GDI armies. However, it has been argued that the Wolverine is actually a walker rather than a powered suit.
Powered armor was researched into following the Second Tiberium War, when GDI was looking for something that would allow infantry to operate in the inhospitable Red Zones. By the time of the Third Tiberium War, GDI had developed a powered armor suit that could be deployed on the frontline, which resulted in the Zone Troopers and Zone Raiders. However the technology was highly expensive and prototypical.
By the time of the Tiberium Control Network Conflict, GDI had taken powered armor to the next level by developing the cheap and affordable Zone Armor line of powered armor to increase the survivability of frontline infantry and making it standard issue for GDI infantry. Nod Separatists responded by deploying a new and improved Flame Tank.
Behind the Scenes
The concept of power armor was first popularized in the 1959 science fiction novel Starship Troopers by Robert H. Heinlein. Within the novel, powered armoured infantry dominated the battlefield in a war against the "Bugs" and deployed from orbit in pods. Perhaps in an example of life imitating art, today's Zone Troopers and Raiders can be deployed from orbit using drop pods. What's more, the addition of Scrin infantry, namely Shock Troopers, can very well create a recreation of the "Klendathu" battle.