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The U.S. military eyes futuristic ‘bionic arm’ for the troops

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Army Research Lab to create ‘bionic’ third arm’ for the soldiers

Fox Firepower: Defense Specialist Allison Barrie with a look at the Army Research Lab-program for the development of a ‘bionic’ third arm’ that allow soldiers to carry larger and heavier weapons in the field.

Will future Soldiers be equipped with a futuristic exoskeleton-style arm that will lead to a more lethal, more powerful weapons in the fight?

The U.S. army has been pioneering many of the advances in exoskeletons – real-life versions of what you see Tony Stark wearing Iron Man. By the merging of the human with a machine, exoskeletons have the potential to massively increase a warfighter’s power, strength, speed, stamina and much, much more.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) full body exo project is blazing away, and is regularly in the news. Meanwhile, other military teams are also applying their brains and talent to help our troops by finding other ways to use exoskeleton solutions to give the American fighters a different advantage in battle.

The Army Research Laboratory has been quietly working away on a futuristic sort of bionic arm – this is not one that a soldier does his arm. Instead, this would be the soldier with a whole extra arm made of advanced materials, hence the project called “The Third Arm.”

Will this robot looking arm shoot rounds by itself?

You can’t help but wonder if this robot looking big arm will be gunslinging and shooting off all the rounds by themselves.

The Third Arm will not shoot all the weapons in this time – although that would certainly be something to see – the goal of this project is different.

What does it do?

This new arm can already carry current weapons for the soldiers. “The third Arm” the transfer of the coat of arms of the weight of the soldiers’ arms to their torsos.

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The new technology could help reduce fatigue, but the team also believes that it has the potential to improve the shooting accuracy.

The tension on the arms and shoulders, holding say, a 20-pound-plus weapon for a long time, takes a toll on the muscles. When muscle fatigue hits, the muscles, the shaking, arms moving… and this of course can affect shooting accuracy.

There are in the hope that this ‘Third Arm’ can not only increase accuracy and lethality, but also reduce the recoil and expense. Soldiers often have to carry an obscene amount of weight. The arm can ensure that the carry of a weapon is as comfortable as possible.

And in the future, soldiers could use the arm to carry the next-gen large, deadly weapons in the fight.

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Bigger and badder battle weapons

What if future versions of the arm are even stronger and more weight? Well, it can open the door to the dismounted troops have heavier more powerful weapons literally by the hand.

Take, for example, the mighty M2 lob .50 cals., that can be very useful in a firefight. But it can be a weight of approximately 85 kg.

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The military is exploring new ways to integrate M2s in the mission. An option is mounted on a robotic ground drone, the team as a dog and toting around for them, but another could be “the third arm.”

What kind of firepower can you do with that kind of weapon weight?

Say that an enemy plane or helicopter flies close to the ground to attack AMERICAN soldiers, the M2 .50 Caliber machine gun could be vital in taking that aircraft out of the fight and the protection of the force.

Imagine if a soldier could easily carry a M2, then the power would be right in his hands, not only the destruction of enemy aircraft, but light enemy armored vehicles charging at his fellow-soldiers, for example.

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What weapons could it work?

The arm is compatible with the M4 carbine and the Squad Automatic Weapon or “SAW.” Another option could be the heavy violation saw.

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The mighty M249 light machine gun weighs 27 kilos and is also much used M4 is approximately 7.5 pounds. For the long firefights, patrols, missions….the 27 kilo – or even 7.5 pounds – to feel heavier and heavier, day after day. The Third Arm picks up that dynamic and relieved of a part of that weight of the arms to the hull.

Shield fight

Will this “third arm,” bring shields back in fashion for fighters?

Shields were once fundamental for the fight. Gladiators, Vikings, Romeinen…de many of the iconic fighters used on the shields.

Today the military? Not so much. They can be vital for tasks such as riots or bomb defusing, but platoons of soldiers are not roaming around with shields.

The team of the Army Research Laboratory is looking for the Third Arm, the wearing of a shield for the soldiers. It would be a layer of protection in addition to the body armor. Will a ‘Captain America’ approach work for the way wars are fought today? It will be interesting to see how modern soldiers find ways to use shields.

How does it work?

Currently, the Third Arm weighs about 3.5 pounds. Compatible with the tactical vest, it attaches itself to the soldier back on the reduction of the weight. In the front of the arm attaches to the Picatinny rail on a weapon. It can attach to the left or right side.

When would the Third Arms head in the fight?

This interesting project is in the early days, but has already made great strides.

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ARL is always to listen very carefully to the feedback from the soldiers, and the Third Arm has benefited from the soldier’s input and feedback.

It is expected that even more soldiers will get the chance to try it out and give feedback in future testing.

As the Third Arm of progress in the implementation, it will need to be tested on the basis of realistic battle scenarios and conditions. It will be very interesting to see how he performs in situations where a soldier must shoot on the move or to shoot at moving targets.

How will a Third Arm in the game when a soldier must provide direct medical assistance to a buddy? Or if he needs to direct an unconventional shooting position? Will the futuristic arm effortlessly out of the way?

How is the walk with a large bionic extra arm? It has a negative impact with a soldier’s speed, agility or reaction time?

The ARL team is working on solutions to ensure that this device is robust enough to withstand the fight of life and is compatible with all these types of realistic scenarios downrange.

Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries, who recommends the highest level of defence and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, to purchase, in 30 countries. Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk”, where she gives listeners a direct access to the most fascinating of the Special Operations warriors each week and to learn more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist, click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.

 

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