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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

[Science and the world of tomorrow] Soldiers fighting in weaponized exoskeletons, how plausible is that for the future?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26821points) October 17th, 2016

I was observing an acquaintance playing a video game where the combatants were cloaked in weaponized exoskeletons similar to those the ”liberated people” of the Matrix tried to defend the docks with. The exoskeletons in this video game had heavy machines guns, as well as rocket launchers, the ability to leap further and higher than natural humans, and I suspect able to run faster too, but even if they could not run, the heavy armor or Kevlar made it difficult for conventional weapons to penetrate. How plausible do you see as an evolution of warfare and who do you think will attempt to introduce it first?

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7 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

In development maybe, but the likelihood that they’d ever be deployed in any significant number is slim to nil. Cannon fodder aren’t worth that kind of investment, and the future of warfare is moving away from foot soldiers anyway.

Zaku's avatar

Leaping further and higher and running faster is not worth the investment at our existing tech level. The effort and resources put into it would be much more efficiently invested elsewhere in almost all cases, with some possible exceptions.

Military research though has a lot to do with extracting money from governments, and with the reasoning of being able to do new things more effectively. In the US particularly, there is a focus on reducing risking one’s own humans, and solving various perceived problems.

In that context, there could be some roles eventually for an exoskeleton. I haven’t looked much at the latest military toy projects lately, but immediately I can see that it could be sold as eventually a way to get soldiers an advantage in some situations. Mainly I think it would not be so much about better movement compared to a plain soldier, but about being able to carry enough protection to resist most enemy anti-personnel weapons. Carrying more weapons would also be helpful. That seems like it could be eventually reasonable. If you’re imagining facing many opponents on foot with guns, particularly in urban settings, then something with the ability to go into buildings like a person, but very hard to injure with bullets or grenades, could be advantageous if your goal is to minimize your own casualties. It’d probably tend to reduce enemy morale if they had to worry about facing them.

However I tend to expect that’s a way off being effective, and that it will probably be less expensive to come up with counters. For example, it’s probably going to be hard to make such a thing invulnerable to armor-piercing weapons such as shaped-charges (think RPG, but specialized against armored suits).

Seems like a USA kind of thing. Though the Japanese love robots.

The farther into the future, the more likely it seems, due to improving technology (assuming climate change or other human folly isn’t going to wipe us out), and new situations.

(Oh, and your tag “mechanized infantry” traditionally just refers to infantry formations who are assigned armored vehicles (armored personnel carriers) to get into combat with.)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@ragingloli That is quite a ways from a weaponized exoskeleton a soldier can enclose themselves in with armor and weapons of attack. But, by that video it would appear the US would be leading the charge to have a New Jack Mechanical Infantry.

@Darth_Algar Cannon fodder aren’t worth that kind of investment, and the future of warfare is moving away from foot soldiers anyway.
How would they obtain victory, robots? As yet, no nation has ever won a war by attempting to bomb the opponent into submission short of Uncle Sam and his nuke incident.

@Zaku However I tend to expect that’s a way off being effective, and that it will probably be less expensive to come up with counters. For example, it’s probably going to be hard to make such a thing invulnerable to armor-piercing weapons such as shaped-charges (think RPG, but specialized against armored suits).
The advantages you mentioned I can see as great incentives for developing them. They might not be totally effective against an RPG, but then, most who use them are not thoroughly trained and have a hard time hitting something as large as a Humvee much less something slightly larger than a 6 ft man. But being able to rush into an alley and be impervious to normal weapons fire but having a M134D Gatling Gun at one’s disposal would certainly minimize casualties while inflicting wicked damage.

(Oh, and your tag “mechanized infantry” traditionally just refers to infantry formations who are assigned armored vehicles (armored personnel carriers) to get into combat with.)
I know, but we are talking a New Jack Mechanized Infantry.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t think this scenario is plausible. If you can make a weaponised exoskeleton you can make a weaponised robot and avoid human casualties on your own side.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

The future of warfare isn’t conventional war at all. It’s drones and cyber warfare and guerilla skirmishes. World War III isn’t going to be won by boots on the ground, it’s going to be won by programmer nerds sitting in an air conditioned room somewhere thousands of miles away from their enemy.

Zaku's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I expect that is exactly what they are hoping the people who approve research money will imagine. Robocop without the cyborg aspect. R&D money gets handed out by the millions (or worse) for less practical ideas, so… ka’ching!

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