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Wanted: Special-Ops Battle Suit With Cooling, Computers, Radios, and Sensors 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the paging-tony-stark dept.
An anonymous reader writes "U.S. military researchers are asking industry for ideas on a futuristic uniform for Special Operations warfighters that involves agile air-conditioned armor with embedded computers, sensors, communications radios and antennas, signal processors, wearable displays, and health-monitoring systems. Among the technologies Special Operations Command officials are interested in most (PDF) are advanced armor to protect warfighters from bullets, shrapnel, and other battlefield threats, while preserving their mobility. The suit also may involve powered or unpowered robotic exoskeletons to improve warfighter performance and endurance, while enabling the warfighter to operate silently and unseen."
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Wanted: Special-Ops Battle Suit With Cooling, Computers, Radios, and Sensors

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  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:42PM (#44776849)
    Dude, I want a suit like that for myself!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 06, 2013 @01:47PM (#44776901)

      It would indeed be an upgrade from plate armor, Sir Garlon.

    • by alen (225700) on Friday September 06, 2013 @02:07PM (#44777145)

      why? you live in Compton or South east LA?

      • by SirGarlon (845873)
        No, I mostly want it for the air conditioning. And the RF antennas.
        • by lgw (121541)

          This is just it. Forget about "power armor" with weapons, or even armor.

          As far back as Sun Tsu, experts in strategy have written that the worst thing you can do to a military force is make them fight in a swap. That's just as important today. A "battle suit" that does nothing more than keep a soldier comfortable and disease-free in a swap would be a vast strategic advantage. It's as big a deal as the whole concept of drones.

          Get that working, and an Iron Man suit might be nice in specific cases, but you'

          • As far back as Sun Tsu, experts in strategy have written that the worst thing you can do to a military force is make them fight in a swap. That's just as important today. A "battle suit" that does nothing more than keep a soldier comfortable and disease-free in a swap would be a vast strategic advantage. It's as big a deal as the whole concept of drones.

            Get that working, and an Iron Man suit might be nice in specific cases, but you've already got 90% without armor and weapon links.

            I think that you meant "swamp" not "swap"... Though I have seen how testy housewives can get at swap meets... (grin)

            • by lgw (121541)

              hehe, and I got it wrong twice! Genius. And I don't think I can blame spell-checker auto-correct either.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            In today's, military industrial complex, corporate world, it's all about how to turn individual soldiers into multi-million dollar profit centres. Don't you get it, all those salaries paid to soldiers is lost to corporate coffers, substantively reduce the numbers of soldiers whilst dramatically increasing their equipment costs means increased corporate profits. Bonus each and every time a soldier is killed, basically guarantee millions in increased revenue.

      • by N_Piper (940061)
        A powered exoskeleton would make any type of heavy lifting trivial, do you have any idea how many man hours are used unloading a truck at one Walmart every single day?
        • A powered exoskeleton would make any type of heavy lifting trivial

          So do tail lifts, forklift trucks, pump trucks, and sack trucks, just like they've had at Walmart for decades. No need to invent the space pen when a pencil will do*.

          *yes, I do know that story is apocryphal.

          • Contrary to that email, NASA did not spend a penny to develop a space pen. A private company did and then offered them to NASA, who jumped at the opportunity because they were a massive improvement over the grease pencils they had been using. They had to use grease pencils because a floating broken off graphite pencil tip would be a massive health hazard.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      With a built in cafeteria and ass-wiper.

  • Where do you pee?

  • That is what would make me feel really safe (preferably as an internationally enforced soldier uniform world wide)
    It would also be much cheaper!

  • Is there something wrong with the word "soldier"?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. Soldier is the term typically used for someone in the Army. As opposed to Airmen, Sailors, and Marines. Warfighter is the more general term for anyone int he military.

      • by PhxBlue (562201)
        "Warfighter" is jargon. "Service members" is the general term for anyone in the military.
        • by perpenso (1613749)

          "Warfighter" is jargon. "Service members" is the general term for anyone in the military.

          "Warfighter" seems to be trying to distinguish between those service members who are in combat roles and those who are in non-combat roles.

          As far as old terminology goes I think "troops" would be a better fit, something that can apply to soldiers, Marines, sailors in a shore party, etc.

          • by PhxBlue (562201)

            "Warfighter" seems to be trying to distinguish between those service members who are in combat roles and those who are in non-combat roles.

            Any service member who's not a medic or a chaplain is a combatant, according to the Law of Armed Conflict. Besides, neither mortars nor rocket propelled grenades nor roadside bombs distinguish between the folks in infantry and the folks in logistics.

            So "warfighter" is redundant. Moreover, it's not fully descriptive of everything today's service members are asked to do, because they also help respond to humanitarian crises.

            It's jargon, and I'm not convinced there's any point in using it.

            • by perpenso (1613749)

              "Warfighter" seems to be trying to distinguish between those service members who are in combat roles and those who are in non-combat roles.

              Any service member who's not a medic or a chaplain is a combatant, according to the Law of Armed Conflict. Besides, neither mortars nor rocket propelled grenades nor roadside bombs distinguish between the folks in infantry and the folks in logistics.

              I understand that quite well. I grew up around a WW2 paratrooper. He told me how at Bastogne they were reinforced by the truck drivers who were making one-way trips to get supplies in before Bastogne was completely cut off. He said these truck drivers had not fired a rifle since basic training and had not received any real infantry training either. Despite their non-combat MOS and deficient for the circumstances training, they were still soldiers who fought bravely and endured great hardship.

              So "warfighter" is redundant.

              "Warfighter" ma

            • by greenbird (859670)

              So "warfighter" is redundant.

              Yeah, cause no one needs gear like this more than the cook or the Chaplin. They both need strong protection from projectile vomiting.

              It's jargon, and I'm not convinced there's any point in using it.

              I'll tell you what. We'll just send you out with the grunts for a while. I'm betting you'll see the point and pretty damn quick.

        • by oodaloop (1229816)
          And not just anyone in the military will be wearing this suit. Warfighter is used for someone who does the killing. Someone who works in admin, intel, logistics, or any other job behind a desk is a service member but not a warfighter. Warfighter is not meaningless jargon; it's the right word in this context and what we use (Defense contractor and former Marine, here).
          • by PhxBlue (562201)

            Someone who works in admin, intel, logistics, or any other job behind a desk is a service member but not a warfighter. Warfighter is not meaningless jargon; it's the right word in this context and what we use (Defense contractor and former Marine, here).

            Funny you mention logistics. Lori Piestewa worked logistics. Roslyn Schulte was an intel specialist.

            Their jobs didn't involve desks. Their jobs placed them in harm's way.

            I'm curious how long you've been out, because these days, anyone who (a) wears a uniform and (b) goes downrange is a warfighter by definition. And these days, anyone who wears a uniform ends up going downrange; it's just a question of when.

    • Agreed. "warfighter" is a stupid fucking word (er, portmanteau).
      • by oodaloop (1229816)
        And yet it's what we use in the military to distinguish between combat roles and non-combat roles.
        • OK I'll buy that and I apologize for my impulsive post. I guess I was just put off by the cumersome, germanic quality of the word. I'm also wondering which roles, exactly, are 'non combat' roles. Sir Haig had the cooks, grooms, drivers, and batmen in combat roles at the First Battle of Ypres. Also still feeling that the use of this word in this context is both jargonistic and unnecessary.
          • by oodaloop (1229816)
            It's hard to make a concrete determination between which ones are combat and which ones aren't. My own MOS (military occupational specialty) is mostly deskwork (Marine intelligence analyst), but those assigned to battalions go out on patrols with the infantry. The equivalent in the Air Force might not pick up a rifle in his entire career except to qualify on the range. The recent change for women to be allowed in combat roles reflects the reality that many women were in "non-combat roles" assigned as augm
    • Not Grar! enough. Same reason all the Pentagon flunkies are riding the Metro in camo.
      • so when are we dumping "defense department" and going back to "department of war" ? And does that mean we're going back to slaughtering the natives and taking their land?
        • Re:manifest density (Score:4, Informative)

          by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday September 06, 2013 @02:59PM (#44777821)

          The War Department didn't become the Defense Department. It became the Department of the Army and was removed from the cabinet, as was the Department of the Navy (which didn't get a name change). The Defense Department was, by necessity, a new department because it was created to oversee the Army, Navy and the new formed Air Force, whereas the War Department had been responsible for only the Army since 1798 (nine years after its founding).

      • by MarkvW (1037596)

        Nah, don't be stupid. The deskbound "warfighters" are riding the Metro in camo because it's easier to maintain than dressier uniforms.

        The easiest way is ALWAYS the way the soldier will try to take. To beat your opponent you have to be a little harder and a little more willing to put up with nasty shit.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by mjwalshe (1680392)
          And the Chicks dig it
        • by idontgno (624372)

          Nah, don't be stupid. The deskbound "warfighters" are riding the Metro in camo because it's easier to maintain than dressier uniforms.

          True story.

          In my case, I wore the camo NOT MERELY because it was more comfortable and easier to maintain... but as a sysadmin, crawling around in the subfloor pulling cable would have been pretty much impossible in my Air Force desk-driver blues. (Well, not impossible... but having to rush home to change into a fresh uniform would have been just a waste of time).

          Essentially

          • by Acapulco (1289274)

            What is this maintainability thing in clothing? I ask this in all seriousness. Is it only about cleaning it or is there something else to it? Like, you can wear the fatigues more days without washing and still being presentable, as opposed to, say, Navy white uniforms which I would guess the tiniest bit of dust would make them look "dirty"?

            Or do you refer to being more durable in that you could crawl around in the subfloor and the fatigues won't get torn so easily?

            • by idontgno (624372)

              Both, really. Office-type uniform combinations show soil and wrinkles quite a lot. To stay crisp enough to project correct military bearing (and avoid a word from the First Sergeant), you have to avoid getting dusty or being too active, and wear fresh every day. Fatigues/battledress mask it a lot of the same kinds of signs of "doing real work", so you can stretch it (as long as you don't get filthy or stinky), and you can do slightly grungy stuff and just dust the clothing off.

              Also, expectations are a bit r

    • by SirGarlon (845873)

      The buzzword is meant to be inclusive. Technically, Army personnel are soldiers, Air Force personnel are airmen, Marine Corps personnel are marines, and Navy personnel are sailors. It's easier to say "warfighter" than to say "soldier, sailor, airman, and/or marine" every other sentence -- or, apparently, to risk offending anyone by leaving one or more of the service branches out. (I would think the military is the last place where one should have to worry about whiners, but whatever.)

      I read an op-ed by a re

    • by Dzimas (547818)
      The military is marketed to 18-year-olds, and "soldier" is a passive term that simply doesn't convey the thrill and excitement of getting shot at.
    • Is there something wrong with the word "soldier"?

      Marines tend to object violently to being called "soldiers". Soldiers are in the Army.

    • actually, the term is used to distinguish combat troops from their paper pushing comrades. For every single infantryman, there are 11 support soldiers - from cooks to supply to drivers. I'll leave you to judge how efficient that may seem.
      • Are there really? I'm pretty sure most of those support personnel aren't even US troops, they're private contractors.

        Once upon a time they were soldiers, but with an all volunteer army and our administrations ah...fascination with continuous warfare that has changed. Nowadays many of those sorts of things are done by Blackwater (or whatever they're calling themselves now) , Haliburton, etc.
      • by cusco (717999)
        Cooks and drivers are now contracted out to KBR. In the '70s a lot of my classmates went into the military and came out with training in logistics, auto repair, electronics, heavy machinery operation, etc. because the military used all its own people to do all the work of supporting the front line troops. Hell, even Beetle Bailey did enough KP to know how to run a kitchen. Today that's all contracted out, at some bases even the guards are mercenaries. When guys leave the military today most of them ha
  • Why air conditioning? Wouldn't it be simpler, lighter, and more efficient to cool with conduction than convection? I'm thinking pads that stick to the skin running water to a heat pump or even Peltier devices to make the whole thing solid state.

    • by MrDoh! (71235)
      Sounds good. For the places they're probably wanting to use it, shame you can't make it nice and reflective to bounce a lot of solar energy away, but having troops wandering around lit up like disco balls probably isn't the thing they're after! Having a 'stillsuit' type thing under any armour should help with the cooling/attachment of external armour too, perhaps a combo system? the pads to a heat pump for general use, and an 'active' system in the external armour to crank up when needed, then flip off t
    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      I didn't read the PDF, but probably what the DoD asked for was "cooling," and the poster or editor mistook "air conditioning" for an exact synonym. I am sure the DoD would be happy with any cooling mechanism that worked.
    • I am going to make the assumption that the army wants to protect their soldiers from concussive blast (from bombs, RPGs, etc.), chemical, and nuclear fallout. In order to protect from these threats you need a air tight seal which then bright up issues on how to cool the soldiers. Look back at Gulf War I and what soldiers had to endure under the threat of chemical attack.

      I am also going to assume that the army does not mean “AC” when the article says “AC”. I would think any cooling sy

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      water is heavy you want to save your carrying capacity for important things like ammo,spare socks mars bars etc
    • Why air conditioning?

      Americans can't function without it. Or so TV has led me to believe.

  • Sharkskin jackets with lasers - Contact DoD.

  • Just watch. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by some old guy (674482) on Friday September 06, 2013 @02:03PM (#44777117)

    One the Army gets them, the nazis over at the DEA will want them too, and in no time at all Andy Taylor and Barney Fife will get a Homeland Security law enforcement grant so they can add this to their local sheriff's arsenal of M-16's, M-60's, and infantry fighting vehicles...so they can morph into Judge Dredd and fight the swarms of evil terrorists we see on every street corner.

    • by cusco (717999)
      I'm not terribly worried about this yet. The power draw would be phenomenal, the batteries or fuel cell would weigh more than the suit. The only way I could think of to power this monstrosity would be a separate wheeled or tracked vehicle that hooks to the suit with an umbilical cord. It would make a lot more sense to put the grunt in a self propelled armored vehicle the size of a Smart car. That at least would have some possibility of functioning.
  • by chill (34294)

    Also on the list, a pony. Preferrably one with a frickin' laser beam on its head.

  • Morphine administered.

  • Okay... so it's not particularly good art, but it is art [amazon.com] nonetheless. If they invent e-balls as well, I totally want to see one of these in action!
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday September 06, 2013 @02:14PM (#44777239)

    ... a futuristic uniform for Special Operations warfighters that involves agile air-conditioned armor with embedded computers, sensors, communications radios and antennas, signal processors, wearable displays, and health-monitoring systems. ... officials are interested in advanced armor to protect warfighters from bullets, shrapnel, and other battlefield threats, while preserving their mobility.

    Problem solved [wikipedia.org]. Some mobility may be limited.

  • I thought Troy Hurtubise was trying to shop around a suit of armor [wikipedia.org] similar to what they're looking for. Seems like a crazy guy, but the documentary about the bear proof suit was cool.
  • by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday September 06, 2013 @02:18PM (#44777275)

    anti-ballistic, computerized, walking.

    Pick 2.

  • Float...

    Not obscure the vision of the wearing when enemy fires "flour bombs" at wearer...

    Also work in the dense jungle (we know how well our high-tech worked against the pajama wearing VC...

    • I think we can be fairly confident that US troops will never fight another jungle war. Deserts and cities, that's what they're thinking of, and no matter how valuable Resource X in the jungle is, US troops aren't going to be committed to "securing" it. Those Viet Nam scars run deep.

  • Hell, *I* want Mospeada!! Those Cyclones are damned cool!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_Climber_MOSPEADA [wikipedia.org]

  • ... Gundam [wikipedia.org]. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture have been covering up their involvement in this technology, so that might be a good place to start looking. Why not contact them?

  • " agile air-conditioned armor with embedded computers, sensors, communications radios and antennas, signal processors, wearable displays, and health-monitoring systems."

    And low observable - infrared, RF, you know.

    Oh, wait. That is gonna be harder.

    How long before the battlefield is cluttered with little RF bots crawling around pretending to be communicating with themselves and Central Command, attracting DIY drones and quadcopters spewing hostile fire? And of course lighting themselves up to be found and n

  • Is it going to be shielded from RF stuff. I'm thinking HERF here but any directed energy weapon will do.
    • by cusco (717999)
      Screw 'directed energy', the Soviets came up with an EMP weapon that could be built in any decently-equipped machine shop. No nukes needed. The plans are out in the wild now, I think the range was something like a half a kilometer radius. Fry the electronics in this thing and its utility is reduced to an immobile pile of armor to hide behind (if the soldier can even get out of it).
  • Where are they going to get the beskar to make these?
  • The book, not the movies.
  • If you're going through all the trouble of building an articulating exoskeleton with most of the range of human motion, then why stuff and extra 80kg of meat-sac in it? Just replace the human with some remote controls and you can throw out all that inconvenient padding, air conditioning, and restrictions on G-forces. Then you basically have a land drone.

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