Power Armor?

Discussion in 'Army' started by solarz, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. solarz
    Offline

    solarz Colonel

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    4,769
    Likes Received:
    4,436
    I was just wondering what all you military buffs thinks about the idea of Power Armor: a personnel-sized suit of tank-grade armor which additionally confers hydraulic strength to the operator.

    What would be the military advantages that would justify the undoubtedly astronomical development costs of Power Armor? Based on current technology, we could probably get light-tank grade armor, which would stop most firearms short of anti-material rifles.

    A squad of soldiers wearing Power Armor would be like a tank squadron that had the mobility of an infantry squad. Current anti-tank weapons would be all but useless against them although high-calibre rifles could still be a problem. Does anyone know if machine guns can punch through light tank armor?

    So what do you think the military benefits are? What would be the technological hurdles? Would the benefits outweigh the costs?
     
  2. chuck731
    Offline

    chuck731 Banned Idiot

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    1

    What is your idea of "tank grade"? Tank armor range in protection from proof against 7.62mm ball round - pretty much the same as a good suit of heavy duty flak jacket - to proof against 125mm sabot and HEAT rounds, which involve something on the order a 1 meter thickness of various materials.
     
    #2 chuck731, Jan 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  3. solarz
    Offline

    solarz Colonel

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    4,769
    Likes Received:
    4,436
    That's part of the question. What degree of protectiveness would be realistically feasible on a Power Armor? I imagine that protection against things like sabot and HEAT would be superfluous, as the Power Armored soldier can make use of mobility and cover to avoid direct hits. Protection against secondary damage from heat and explosion would be highly desirable, on the other hand.

    The armor strength would also depend on what you think the primary type of missions power armored soldiers would be involved in. In urban warfare clearing insurgents from buildings? Or assaulting enemy positions while weathering hostile artillery or air cover?
     
  4. chuck731
    Offline

    chuck731 Banned Idiot

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    1
    Maybe superflous against HEAT rounds of artillery size. But once heavy armor become widespread on infantry soldiers, would it not then become profitable to develop rifle caliber HEAT rounds just for antipersonel use? Also, once heavy body armor become really widespread, it would probably become worthwhile to equip rifles with flechette rounds similar to anti-tank sabot rounds to pierce the armor.

    It is said modern HEAT and SABOT technology can punch through essentially any material up to a thickness equal to 6-7 times the diameter of the charge. If one were to incorporate HEAT technology into a 5.56mm round, the soldier would need to wear a suite 2 - 3 cms thick. If one were to go back to 7.62mm rounds, the soldier would need protection about 4 cm thick.

    3 cm of steel will protect against splinter penetration by a 155mm round exploding 2 meters away.

    But I am not sure if armor will help enough in protecting against the concussion and blunt impact of the soldier being thrown by the force of the 155mm round exploding 2 meters away.

    To fully protect a human would require a minimum of about 2 square meters of covering. A suit made of steel 4cm thick covering a human completely would weigh 750kgs (3 time the load carrying capacity of a WWII jeep). If the protection is restricted only to the vitals the suite would still weigh around 300 kgs. Using ceremic a vitals only suite would still weigh about 150kgs. This is if the amor only protects the man.

    If you put power source, the actuators, the electronics, etc all under armor, the armor would evidently weigh more.

    If the powersource, actuators, electronics are outside of armor, and weigh about the same as the armor, then the kit will weigh about 300kg, in addition to the weight of the men and his weapon, which would likely amount to another 150kgs. The total is about 450kg for a single soldier in a partially protected powered armor suit, or about 3 times that of a normal soldier.

    A head to toe suite that also cover actuators and vital electronics would probably weigh 3 times more. Put weapons also under armor and the weight go up still further.

    Once the soldier and his kit weigh 1000 kgs the temptation must be great to load him with more than just a 4kg rifle. One the caliber of weapon increases the need for more armor also increases, so the weight spirals up again.

    At some point in weight and complexity the greater automotive efficiency and simplicity of conventional wheeled or tracked modes of locomotion will start to outweigh the flexibility of legs.

    Pretty soon you have a one man tank.
     
    #4 chuck731, Jan 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  5. Equation
    Offline

    Equation Lieutenant General

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    10,530
    Likes Received:
    12,114
    Maybe good for bunker defense and that's about it for its use. It's too slow, cumbersome, too big as a target, makes too much noise and high maintenance makes it a very costly and inefficient weapons system to be a part of a strike team in platoon size element.
     
  6. solarz
    Offline

    solarz Colonel

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    4,769
    Likes Received:
    4,436
    Concussive force could be an issue, but I'm not well versed enough in physics to understand how well armor could protect against that.

    However, before delving into tech specs, it's useful to examine what Power Armor should be used for. For example, why load the power armored soldier with a high-caliber rifle if his primary purpose is anti-infantry?

    The entire purpose of power armor is to have combat units that have the mobility and flexibility of infantry combined with the protection of tanks, so I don't see the purpose of giving power armor a set of wheels. Why not just build a big troop transport for power armored soldiers instead?

    Even at 1000kg, that's a lot lighter than an actual tank. This makes power armored soldiers much easier to transport or even airlift than tanks, and would open up a lot of tactical options. You also can't hide a tank in bunkers or trenches, but power armored soldiers could dig themselves in to withstand artillery and air strikes, all the while holding back enemy ground troops.

    They could also serve as a spear-head force. Islamic insurgents are overrunning the Malian Army? Instead of deploying an entire battalion of troops, along with the requisite support, simply drop in a squad of power armored soldiers who will mow down the insurgents with impunity, leaving the mopping up to the Malians. This could apply equally well to peacekeeping forces.
     
    #6 solarz, Jan 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  7. chuck731
    Offline

    chuck731 Banned Idiot

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,165
    Likes Received:
    1

    1000 kg is lighter than any tank, but it's coming close to light tankettes. the German Wiesel armored weapon carrier is only 2500 kgs, it has a 20mm automatic gun which can pierce the side or rear armor of a medium tank at infantry combat range. Wiesel carries a crew of 2 and can be made lighter if only one man is needed to run it. Once you get over 1000 kgs, you can arm yourself with high volume weapons (not single shot bazookas) that makes any reasonable personal armor protection totally irrelevent.

    It is true a wiesel is not quite as easy to conceal as a normal infantry soldier. But it is still considered quite easily concealed and harder to detect even when running in the open than most military vehicles, and therefore more survivable on the battlefield than might be implied by its minimal armor , It is about the size of a VW beatle. It could actually fit into many infantry trenches.
     
    #7 chuck731, Jan 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  8. Equation
    Offline

    Equation Lieutenant General

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    10,530
    Likes Received:
    12,114
    I like your thinking on this, but here in lies the problem, sometimes the fight doesn't always conveniently come to you, rather you have to look for the fight. That means long range and tiresome patrols day and night. Therefore this will make the heavy armored troops weighing close to a 1000Kg depend on it's power source (batteries, etc.) it got left. I can see the advantage in more fire power, ammo, protection, even sensors to search and track enemies from beyond the horizon, but it's size will and weight will give away it's location to the enemy that are hiding and giving out info to their higher ups on the situation. As a result you might be heading towards an ambush of RPGs and heavy .50 caliber machine gun fires and mortar attack.
     
  9. solarz
    Offline

    solarz Colonel

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    4,769
    Likes Received:
    4,436
    You're right, and I would say that those kinds of tasks would be better left for regular soldiers. The power armored soldiers would be a rapid reaction force.
     
  10. Equation
    Offline

    Equation Lieutenant General

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    10,530
    Likes Received:
    12,114
    It could, but why use them when you could do it with drones? Drones can locate heavy enemy activities and fire missiles at them.
     
Loading...

Share This Page