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January 24, 2007

Bear-suit inventor makes bullet-proof body armor exoskeleton

Halosuit

The dude who designed the bear-attack prevention suit is applying his inventing talents to protect troops in the field.

Geekologie explains:

The suit is called Trojan and the inventer describes it as the "first ballistic, full exoskeleton body suit of armour" and he hopes to get it deployed for Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan and US soldiers in Iraq. The suit has stood up to an elephant gun, and is made from high-impact plastic lined with ceramic bullet protection over ballistic foam. Included in the suit are compartments for emergency morphine and salt, a knife and emergency light. Built into the forearms are a small recording device, a pepper-spray gun and a detachable transponder that can be swallowed in case of trouble. The whole suit comes in at 18 kilograms and covers everything but the fingertips and the major joints, and could allegedly be mass-produced for about $2,000. Plus, if you saw an army of these things coming at you you wouldn't even fight. You'd just give up and pray the space robots haven't come to anally probe you.

All that for a mere two grand? If I ever report from a combat zone, I want one of these. It would be hard to be unobtrusive, but being bullet-proof is probably better than being inconspicuous. Although, 18 kilograms is almost half my body weight, so it might not be very practical for getting those action shots.

Comments

Whoops -- the link to Geekologie didn't work, but this one will Geekologie.

Something tells me they're not quite ready for prime time, however. Maybe if they were lighter...

Yes, Trojans feel about like that.

(sorry, had to)

Quick! Let's ignore him and pay General Dynamics $50 million to develop a prototype of the same thing...but with a piss bladder!!!

This has been another episode of "Short Lessons in Government Machinations".

Join us next time!

develop a prototype of the same thing...but with a piss bladder

Like the chemical weapons suits that protect you against nerve gas only until you have to take a leak.

Robert Heinlein would be proud.

I expect that most troops in the field weigh more than you do, Lindsay... also, your second link's broken.

The suit isn't going to do much good in battle. In asymmetric warfare, guerillas will always be able to find the few weak spots of troops wearing these suits. Unless they are woefully underequipped, guerilla forces will likely have weapons strong enough to make the suit useless, like mortars and RPGs. In conventional warfare, say in a shooting war with China, it will make sense to deploy these suits, but only until the other side develops the technology to counter them, such as rifles with sufficiently high muzzle velocity.

Can I just point out that both UK and US troops are currently deployed without the (much cheaper) armour that we already have? This is just pure techno-wankery.

And if you saw an army of those coming, you'd start running and see who kept going longest... Preferably through difficult terrain. I wouldn't even fancy trying to climb a flight of stairs in that lot. Add another 15-20kgs of fighting equipment and you'd barely be able to move.

I don't know. It's possible that 18 kilograms distributed throughout the body might be less tiring than wearing an 8 kg interceptor armor suit with the weight load concentrated on the shoulders, much as knights found plate armor to be less tiring to wear than mail, which concentrated its weight on the shoulders. I don't know much about the details, though.

A full suit of medieval plate armor weighed about 20 kilos (fighting armor, not jousting armor). You could sprint in it with minor difficulty. It was annoying, but one was expected to essentially live in it. Fighting in it was exhausting though, limited to a few minutes of strenuous exertion followed by a few minutes of rest. Then again, that kind of fighting was probably exhausitng even without armor.


Chemicals to make ultra-high velocity munitions have been around for a years. They were developed for anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems. Small arms using such projectiles have been developed. However, one of the biggest problems today is the ubiquitousness of the cheap, deadly AK-47. A suit like this would be effective against that common-as-dirt rifle. Hopefully, we won't see the need to extend weapons welfare in the form of more modern arms to every blood-diamond guerilla and zealot on the planet.

Total nonsense.

What we need is less fighting not better ways to fight.

It needs a heads-up display that puts cross-hairs over your field of vision, and features lots of rapidly changing numbers.

And a jetpack. Gotta have a jetpack.

It doesn't make sense to invest a lot of energy in protecting body parts that don't cause immediate fatalities when injured. Given that in the US military the time from injury to surgery is on the order of half an hour, all you need to protect against is wounds that kill in short order. A bullet through the kneecap may be uncomfortable, but it won't kill.

Frontline soldiers need to be able to maneuver rapidly and operate independently. Throwing on additional weight slows them down (read: more casualties) and places greater demands on the supply chain (more water needed to keep the troops hydrated, more transportation needed because they can' walk as far, etc.).

18 kilograms [is] almost half my body weight

Dude. I thought you were slender, but that's ridiculous.

Troy Hurtubise is a crackpot- a lovable one, but a crackpot nonetheless. His armor is a tad berserk but would it be his if it wasn't?

Not sure why you want a suit like this in a guerrilla war, though.

I'm not sure about warfare but tht suit could win first prize at an anime convention.
Gundam are here except for the jet pack, rocket launcher and cool night vision laser sensor.

I am curious what countermeasures such a suit would inspire. Seems much more useful for a "hold" position than a forward advance. I think it would provide some protection from the periphery of a mortar or RPG hit but a direct hit would still cause casualties.

I also wonder about the psych factor: would being encased in such armor make a professional fighting unit more cautious or risk-taking?

I want one of these outfits. Would look excellent on those late night subway rides.

As someone else pointed out, the inventor is... shall we say eccentric?

Sure, in modern warfare, this thing is kind of impractical right now. But, think of the long-term benefits. If nothing else, it shows that it's possible to make a relatively inexpensive suit of body armor to protect armed forces and police officers. There's no reason why it can't be refined further to improve performance. Even if it never catches on for the average infantry-man, think of the possibilities- point-men and door breachers for SWAT units? The poor guy who has to man the gun-mount on a Humvee?

Re: "It doesn't make sense to invest a lot of energy in protecting body parts that don't cause immediate fatalities when injured."

I disagree. Lethality isn't the only concern when dealing with injuries. Every time you have a soldier that's wounded, that's a soldier who isn't fighting, and who is, potentially, bringing down morale. A knee-wound may not be lethal, but a soldier shot in the knee sure as hell isn't helping his unit anymore, he's slowing them down, and his injury can lower morale as his buddies worry about him, or recognize the pain that he's in.

*This* may not be practical, but it's an interesting concept, and it shows that it can be done.

Alon Levy said:

"The suit isn't going to do much good in battle. In asymmetric warfare, guerillas will always be able to find the few weak spots of troops wearing these suits"

I disagree. Making it harder for a soldier to be killed or wounded is always worth doing. Yes there may be counter-strategies, but that's always the case for any kind of fighting.

Togolosh said:
"It doesn't make sense to invest a lot of energy in protecting body parts that don't cause immediate fatalities when injured."

Sure it does. Compare the relative contributions that could be made by a person who is only temporarily down due to a bruise resulting from a bullet deflected by armor to a person who is seriously wounded and not only cannot fight, but requires medical attention.

The fewer injuries suffered by our troops, the better off they are, in many ways.

Even if the suit is not immediately practical, I think it's a line of research that should definitely be pursued.

With regard to police uses of such an outfit:

It would be good if police entering a home to arrest someone wore such outfits INSTEAD of tossing in stun grenades and smoke grenades.

More likely though, they would wear such outfits and STILL toss in stun grenades and smoke grenades.

Look, if we are going to take this outfit seriously, rather than as a weird bit of sci fi come to life, we need to think about the kinds of jobs the military actually has to do.

Contrary to B/C above, I think this would terrible for the hold sequence of an invasion. You don't make inroads with the local population by looking like an invading space robot.

The job of a soldier looks more like community policing every day. Soldiers dressed like this in Iraq, for instance, will be no better at trying to negotiate disputes at the neighborhood level between Sunni and Shi'a. They won't be any better and learning the local dialect and figuring out who their enemies are, and what grievances allow their enemy to recruit followers. They won't look any good passing out candy to children.

This outfit was made for a TV war, not a real life war.

No, no, it's for gorilla warfare, not guerilla. Troy Hurtubise: another tragic victim of homophones.

RickD - Compare the relative contributions that could be made by a person who is only temporarily down due to a bruise resulting from a bullet deflected by armor to a person who is seriously wounded and not only cannot fight, but requires medical attention.

The armor comes with a price - slower movement, more frequent rest stops, bigger logistical tail. All of those increase the chances of taking hits. Only if the reduction in injuries outstrips the increase in hits does the armor become a net win from the standpoint of the troops. From the standpoint of the mission, the armor is only worth it if the slower movement (i.e. reduced fighting effectiveness) can be compensated by taking resources that would have gone to medevac (or other casualty handling) and using them improve fighting effectiveness up to the level of troops in more conventional body armor.

As a reductio ad absurdum, consider the impact on field effectiveness of putting each soldier inside a spherical steel ball with foot thick walls. Near perfect protection, near perfect uselessness.

Ah! That actually makes more sense.

First- the anti-bear suit.
Now- The anti-gorilla suit.

My question is, does it come with a neat voice distorter. What good is looking like an invading alien force if you can't sound like a storm-trooper while doing it?

Cool!
Possibly useful for SWAT teams.

Do a major fraction of our casualties in Iraq come from small-arms firefights, as opposed to IEDs, mortars, RPGs and that sort of thing?

How's the ventilation? It looks hot and uncomfortable for desert heat.

Also: 36 kg? Seriously?

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