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How viable would powered armor be in a realistic military setting?
I am currently writing a story, and part of it involves the invention and use of powered armor by the military. What I was curious about was how useful this armor would actually be, and what roles it would perform.
Assuming battery power isn't an issue, the armor is capable of lifting 150kg (counting the weight of the exoskeleton, but not counting the weight of any armor plating), and it is too expensive to be standard issue but not so expensive that it would have to be rare, what would it be able to do and how good would it be at its jobs? How would it compare to more conventional technologies?
(If you need me to provide more details, or if I got something wrong here you would like me to fix, I can fix it or add in new things. I'm fairly new to this, so I don't know what kind of information you might need.)
The power armor is best suited to accompany a squadron of half a dozen soldiers fighting in an enclosed space where combat vehicles cannot easily manoeuvre. S
The power armor is best suited to accompany a squadron of half a dozen soldiers fighting in an enclosed space where combat vehicles cannot easily manoeuvre. Skirmishes in cities come to mind. Forests and mountains also come to mind but since forests or mountains are much bigger than cities some sort of vehicle would also be required for transport.
You would have a large number of independent squadrons each having an exoskeleton and pilot as part of their equipment.
Here are some things a power-armor can do that a marine or tank cannot easily do in an urban setting. Note a lot of them are support rather than purely combat roles.
I'm presuming the exoskeleton is resistant to small arms fire.
Move out from cover and clamber onto a nearby rooftop. Then provide covering fire while the rest of the squad advances. Foot soldiers can already do this but the exoskeleton can climb better and advance under heavier fire.
Pile up wrecked cars, sandbags or other debris to create a defensive e2018-05-16 17:09:59
Power Armour, if similar to that seen in the Fallout computer games, would have many uses in the military, most of which probably aren't combat roles.
I would suggest that 150 kg is quite light to make it a viable platform, maybe around 500 kg would make more sense, for full Power Armour, and 150 kg for a simple exoskeleton, Power armour offers protections and huge gains, exoskeleton offers only carry capacity.
Anything that doesn't need confined spaces would be possible, especailly if decent armour, simple exoskeletons are already is testing for the US military, its the power that is the struggle, these allow a soldier to carry more weight
Speed in combat is very important, maybe the motors could proper a soldier to have longer strides for the extra speed but it would take a lot more to work on the suspension to compensate for... so power armour is unlikely to beat a soldier in a sprint to cover, but they wouldn't need the cover if they were armoured, they could be a2018-05-16 17:17:14
Most conflict is now Asymmetrical and Irregular
There is recently little need for standing armies apart from deterrence - most practical usages of troops tend to be in occupation roles in small conflicts where there is little need for troop deployment in open fields - now conflict is in more urban environments amongst urban populations.
This means, in contrast to WWII, Korean and Vietnam wars, that body armour has crept back in to standard issue, largely due to protecting the body against explosive devices. Direct fire conflicts are few and far between.
However, body armour has limited efficacy depending on each situation - like camouflage and helmets they are not guaranteed protection, only reducing risk but not eliminating injury. There is little you could do against a well placed device, or a mine.
Therefore powered body armour would not actually be that useful, unless it provides a greater measure of protection than currently exists against IED's. It is not altogether useful2018-05-16 17:35:11
The additional weight capacity is noticble (vs the standard 61 kg loadout), but I'm not sure how significant it is. Given that horses/donkeys are in use by the US Military (in some places) in Afghanistan, clearly a legged creature that can carring goods has a military need. However, a far more valuable part of both the weight and the strenght will be counteracting recoil. Recoil is the primary limit on rate of fire or cailber weapon that can be deployed without a supporting bipod/tripod. Adding addition weight (to absorb) and strengh (to counteract) recoil would allow for larger or more rapid fire guns. Would it be enough to allow an M60 to be fired without a support? A .50 caliber rifle? An anti-tank weapon? You'd have to look it up...
Another factor would be stability, which would increase the range at which the soldier was effective. Modern snipers are crazy effective at insane distances, but have to do a lot of body control to eliminate the effects of breathing or havin2018-05-16 17:42:37
If your PA is lift weight only sorta thing and light armored depending on the size, it could be used for transportation , ocasional firefight against a lightly armed enemy or even intimidation purposes.
As said by others, transportation or moving crates around are more suited for exoskeleton models more than a PA .
If it can be fitted with armor id say a 90kg armor plating or more would make for a perfect first strike option against an enemy that can't be aerial bombed first. Even if it's not direct armor on the exoskeleton a shield and rifle(considering the metallic structure could withstand the kickback more than a humans' hand ...) could enforce it's defensive capability. Note, i'm thinking of a tower shield here, with enough covering surface to be worth the hassle.
The team could even use some old Roman Legion formations even.
Aside from this particular use cases i don't think it would be really that viable or widespread if the cost is too elevated. Technically now days troops2018-05-16 17:59:43
While increased lifting power would be useful for soldiers, I don't think that would be the reason powered armor would be adopted. The big draw of powered armor would be the armor.
One of the main reasons heavy, plate mail-type armor disappeared for battlefields is that firearms demanded more armor than an individual solider could carry. This was the case until modern materials like Kevlar was invented. If powered armor increased the weight limit (so to speak) you could start armoring individual solider with inches of armor commonly found on tanks.
True enough, this wouldn't be available to every solider, but squads operating in urban areas would definitely appreciate being immune to small arms fire. Likewise, WWI stormtroopers-style would like becoming juggernauts as well, sense those kinds of troops use high-risk highly mobile tactics that expect returned fire. Heck, one powered armor person with a double thick, double wide bulletproof shield could be useful as mobile cover.2018-05-16 18:01:30