Combined Arms for Powered Armor

SF: discuss futuristic sci-fi series, ideas, and crossovers.

Moderator: NecronLord

chimericoncogene
Redshirt
Posts: 20
Joined: 2018-04-25 09:12am

Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by chimericoncogene » 2018-04-25 09:43am

Given:
- Plausible mid-future technology;
- Lightweight (~250-300kg total?) powered exoskeletons with and without light armor (for combat and logistics purposes)
- Conventional light infantry (motorized? logistics exoskeletons only?) forces
- Combat exoskeleton-equipped "heavy" infantry forces
- Other combined arms (armor, artillery, aerospace support, or a PMF derivative)

How would troops in powered armor be employed in roughly symmetric conflicts? Will they only be employed in asymmetric conflicts? (The lack of a reasonable niche may argue against the existence of "heavy" infantry at all)

E.g. Combined arms operations: tanks and counter-PGMs blitzkreig until they hit well-positioned infantry. Heavy infantry, light infantry, and IFVs clear the obstacle. Heavy infantry counters enemy light infantry, and is countered by heavy infantry? Light infantry protects heavy infantry from enemy light infantry? Can artillery/tanks shell positions with flechettes to demolish light infantry without harming heavy infantry? Will heavy infantry be protected against small-caliber PGMs?

How would troops in powered armor be equipped?

E.g. If "heavy" infantry is protected against medium machine gun fire, do they pack medium machine guns or heavy machine guns? Or assault rifles firing medium (7.62) or heavy (.50 cal) cartridges? Does everyone in the light infantry pack an M14 instead of an M16?

Other ideas?

User avatar
Vendetta
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10483
Joined: 2002-07-07 04:57pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Vendetta » 2018-04-26 05:55am

It's very likely that the most important weapon system on the battlefield will remain Bob the Rifleman for an indefinite period. Basically every other weapon system exists to deploy and support a sufficient number of Bobs to take and hold whatever objectives the battle plan requires.

So, what develops around power armour depends on how much of it you can have and where it can go. If it can't enter buildings, for instance, you still need Bob to do that (you could argue "just flatten the building" but you could do that with a heavier and better armed weapon system than a Bob in power armour).

If you can have sufficient power armour for all your Bobs, and it can do all the things current Bobs can do, then it just becomes the new infantry.

If you can't have a lot of it but it can do all the things a current Bob can do, then you put a few Bobs in it per squad and have them do the more dangerous bits like going through doors first.

Basically, there's not really a niche for "heavy infantry" as a discrete thing. If it can't do everything a current infantryman can do it's just an IFV that needs another bigger IFV to transport it. If it can it just becomes "the infantry" and combined arms is largely unchanged.

User avatar
Jub
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2832
Joined: 2012-08-06 07:58pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Jub » 2018-04-26 06:34am

Let's start with some pros and cons as well as answers to specific questions.

HI (Heavy Infantry) they would resist most standard rifle and SAW rounds, likely have some degree of augmented strength and endurance, have superior NBC protection, and probably have some communications and battlefield awareness niftiness built in. Downsides are that barring major advances in battery tech they are going to struggle with in-field endurance, they're going to be expensive, they're going to have limits to where they can go compared to a regular GI, and they're going to need new transport vehicles to carry them.

They're unlikely to be sturdy enough to allow artillery to drop much closer to them than to a regular infantry unit, though depending on your exact protection levels, they may be able to call in specialized mortar and grenade launcher support on top of themselves in a way that no normal infantry unit could. You could drop chemical weapons on them with normal artillery but doing so is going to escalate things in a way that most nations won't want to deal with.

Given these upsides and downsides, I don't see Heavy Infantry as being a large independent force.

Mixing one or two into a normal infantry unit would create tougher point men, allow for heavier weapons to be carried with greater ease, or even just carry extra ammo and supplies for the team. An HI carrying something like the XM25 could also carry a regular rifle thus avoiding one of the systems main complaints. The drawback for having an HI soldier in a squad is that they are going to require more supplies than a regular soldier, are going to require you to design new APCs/IFVs to carry the squad, the HI trooper is going to take longer to train than his regular squadmates unless the average soldier becomes power armor trained, and most importantly the HI soldier is likely going to be drastically more expensive to field than a regular grunt.

Power armor wearing artillerymen would have an endurance and lifting capacity advantage over their normal compatriots but the added expense probably doesn't justify using them over something like a self-propelled artillery system. As a general rule, you want to keep your field guns cheap and easy to supply and adding in power armor to that mix hurts on both fronts. Though you probably want a one power armor equipped soldier per gun just to make the job of moving ammo about less of a strain. Though this again requires rethinking your transport options and that alone really hurts from a cost standpoint.

Your engineers will love powered armor for a lot of their jobs, as will your medics. Increased toughness, increased strength, less of a worry about in-field endurance. This checks a lot of boxes for these roles and is likely to be where any real systems are first fielded.

Special forces types usually want stealth more than they want toughness and powered armor that can only stop some percentage of rifle rounds isn't enough of a buff to allow your HI to take positions that a well-supported infantry force couldn't already take. Plus, if such a force was fielded you can be sure the other side would start looking at better AP rounds for their forces. This would take some time to come to fruition but in the end, it's likely that countering powered armor is cheaper than fielding it so your cost to benefit ratio starts looking pretty iffy if you start thinking about a full-on HI arm of your armed forces.

User avatar
Gunhead
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 1642
Joined: 2004-11-15 08:08am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Gunhead » 2018-04-26 09:10am

Yea no. If we go by the proposed max weight of 300kg, the actual loaded weight for 1 trooper would be 300kg for the suit + 85kg for the man inside, then if you have him lug around a HMG that's another 40kg for the weapon alone without ammunition.. roughly speaking it'll be 450-500kg and now I just a have a machine gunner with a massive maintenance trail and I'd need two guys just to keep the gun fed and carry the spare barrels.
They'd still be vulnerable to man portable weapons, IEDs, mines, artillery, various 25-40mm launched grenades, anti-materiel rifles and the thing is you don't even have to kill the operator, it's enough that you damage the suit to a point where it looses it's mobility and then you'd need someone to carry tools to repair the suit (more weight) or get someone to lug it out of the battlefield, which needs other power suits or a vehicle.
That's a lot of wasted resources just to have a guy who is better protected against small arms fire and shrapnel.
All this assuming that the guy in power suit doesn't significantly lose mobility and ability to use cover and enter buildings, which by the weight alone he would, making him a target for a whole host of vehicle mounted weaponry.

-Gunhead
"In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it."
-Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel

"And if you don't wanna feel like a putz
Collect the clues and connect the dots
You'll see the pattern that is bursting your bubble, and it's Bad" -The Hives

chimericoncogene
Redshirt
Posts: 20
Joined: 2018-04-25 09:12am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by chimericoncogene » 2018-04-26 09:23am

Tanks and IFVs are vulnerable to a wide variety of weapons, but retain a niche. Powered armor could conceivably deploy medium anti armor munitions and heavy weapons e.g. ATGMs more flexibly than infantrymen or jeeps, as pointed out above.
Cost / complexity effectiveness of powered armor has always been uncertain to dubious, I agree.
Drone swarms? Ubiquitous "skeet" submunitions?
(Also, 300kg max weight was expected to be for the whole suit and man, and the gun system. Atomic Rockets says stairs are supposed to carry 250kg or so.. a paranoid nation might dial that down for civil defense)

chimericoncogene
Redshirt
Posts: 20
Joined: 2018-04-25 09:12am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by chimericoncogene » 2018-04-26 09:34am

Ref. Weaponry unloaded and loaded with some ammunition and boxes
XM312 50 cal 20kg empty 50kg (200 rounds - bullets are heavy!)
Javelin ATGM 20kg (15 kg missile, 5kg scope)
Skeet 5-10kg, varies dep on size
M16 3.4 kg empty 8kg 200 rounds
M240 medium machine gun 11 kg empty assume 20kg with somw ammo.
Any suggestions?

User avatar
U.P. Cinnabar
Sith Devotee
Posts: 3057
Joined: 2016-02-05 08:11pm
Location: Aboard the RCS Princess Cecile

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-04-26 09:49am

chimericoncogene wrote:
2018-04-26 09:23am
Tanks and IFVs are vulnerable to a wide variety of weapons, but retain a niche. Powered armor could conceivably deploy medium anti armor munitions and heavy weapons e.g. ATGMs more flexibly than infantrymen or jeeps, as pointed out above.
Cost / complexity effectiveness of powered armor has always been uncertain to dubious, I agree.
Drone swarms? Ubiquitous "skeet" submunitions?
(Also, 300kg max weight was expected to be for the whole suit and man, and the gun system. Atomic Rockets says stairs are supposed to carry 250kg or so.. a paranoid nation might dial that down for civil defense)
Also dependent on how well maintained the structure is, and the material the stairs are made from.
"Beware the Beast, Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone amongst God's primates, he kills for sport, for lust, for greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of Death.."
—29th Scroll, 6th Verse of Ape Law

"The Constitution's a piece of paper. A kick in the head is a jolt."
—Stanley "Ray" Kowalski
"Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty."
---NRA motto

User avatar
Vendetta
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10483
Joined: 2002-07-07 04:57pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Vendetta » 2018-04-26 09:55am

chimericoncogene wrote:
2018-04-26 09:23am
Tanks and IFVs are vulnerable to a wide variety of weapons, but retain a niche. Powered armor could conceivably deploy medium anti armor munitions and heavy weapons e.g. ATGMs more flexibly than infantrymen or jeeps, as pointed out above.
Thing is, they're probably not more flexible than Bob.

Power armour is going to add bulk, and that's going to mean you need bigger IFVs with bigger doors to move Bob once he's in his armour and you can get less Bobs in each vehicle. Two Bobs without power armour are likely to be more versatile in deploying currently crew served weapons than one with a big heavy suit because they can go more places and be transported by more of your vehicle fleet.
Power armor wearing artillerymen would have an endurance and lifting capacity advantage over their normal compatriots but the added expense probably doesn't justify using them over something like a self-propelled artillery system. As a general rule, you want to keep your field guns cheap and easy to supply and adding in power armor to that mix hurts on both fronts. Though you probably want a one power armor equipped soldier per gun just to make the job of moving ammo about less of a strain. Though this again requires rethinking your transport options and that alone really hurts from a cost standpoint.
Artillery loaders are better off with servo-assisted lift suits of the sort some companies are already prototyping than anything armoured, because they'd have more mobility and less risk of heatstroke (actually a major and not oft discussed concern for any kind of powered armour, that shit is going to get hot, and would need exceptional ventilation which would need to be incredibly clog resistant to operate in anything other than perfect conditions.

chimericoncogene
Redshirt
Posts: 20
Joined: 2018-04-25 09:12am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by chimericoncogene » 2018-04-26 10:02am

The heat problem is interesting. I've never heard that one before.
MULE-type rovers or small jeeps (?) are probably better for carrying baggage than a porter in a mech suit.
What if we give the entire army Segways with strap-on missiles instead of powered armor? The Japanese moved men on bicycles, didn't they? (Mostly joking)
Referring to the Atomic Rockets article, they note that small dalek-type vehicles have no parallel in modern warfare.
Segways? Tricycle Segways? ATVs are niche vehicles, with problems noted elsewhere.

chimericoncogene
Redshirt
Posts: 20
Joined: 2018-04-25 09:12am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by chimericoncogene » 2018-04-26 10:10am

Thank you very much Jub and Vendetta for suggesting integration of powered armor operators as akin to a MG/mortar platoon, organic to infantry units. They would appear to be more effective deployed as such.

Vendetta's note summed up a logic for powered armor very succinctly.

I did not consider NBC protection; if hardsuits are the only option for space marines/deep-sea-divers who for some reason need hands rather than robotic gripping claws mounted on pods, powered armor may be a necessity rather than a luxury. That or the space marines will mostly fight in tanks.

chimericoncogene
Redshirt
Posts: 20
Joined: 2018-04-25 09:12am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by chimericoncogene » 2018-04-26 10:17am

Thank you Gunhead for noting the mobility of existing heavy weapons. Could you expand more on how mobile they are? I don't know enough about that.

User avatar
Gunhead
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 1642
Joined: 2004-11-15 08:08am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Gunhead » 2018-04-26 12:34pm

chimericoncogene wrote:
2018-04-26 10:17am
Thank you Gunhead for noting the mobility of existing heavy weapons. Could you expand more on how mobile they are? I don't know enough about that.
Mobility is a wide and varied subject, but since we are talking about support weapons up to maybe company level, most of them can be transported by foot infantry but they need to be setup for use and only vehicles realistically can field weapons like HMGs, AGLs, Mortars and Missiles ready for immediate action. Usually the heaviest ready to go weapon for a squad is some form of GL or GPMG, unless supported by vehicles.
Things like This bad boy were nominally considered man portable but as you can see it needs a dedicated squad to operate and really you'd need a vehicle to lug it around long distances. It's an obsolete weapon by today but the upper limit of man portability for heavy weapons hasn't really changed so I think this illustrates that pretty well.
When talking about mobility, you have to consider how far do you need to move the weapon and how quickly, do you want it to be ready for action when it's being moved, how long can you sustain it in action (ammo, replacement barrels, spare parts etc.) and generally what's the weapons role in the organization.

-Gunhead
"In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it."
-Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel

"And if you don't wanna feel like a putz
Collect the clues and connect the dots
You'll see the pattern that is bursting your bubble, and it's Bad" -The Hives

User avatar
Elheru Aran
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 12292
Joined: 2004-03-04 01:15am
Location: Georgia

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-04-26 02:06pm

Consider military context as well. A small country like Finland, sharing a border with a massive nation like Russia, who it has previously had hostilities with, is going to prioritize defence and recruitment differently from a big country like the US or China.

So that AT gun stays in their arsenal because they probably can't quite afford better... but on the other hand, they don't need vehicles to move them around, they can take advantage of their own terrain because it's small enough to pull through heavy forest, and once emplaced it can probably at least give modern tanks a headache.

A futuristic version of Finland might not be able to afford more than a few suits of power armour, and thus it would use those suits of powered armour differently than a large country like the US.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

User avatar
Esquire
Jedi Master
Posts: 1433
Joined: 2011-11-16 11:20pm

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Esquire » 2018-04-26 03:22pm

I could see a role for cave or NBC-conditions fighting, assuming the powered armor isn't massively more bulky than standard combat kit. Possibly also for some special-forces tasks, if it's capable of handling some of the things regular troops use light vehicles for - basically, if it makes an infantryman more durable/able to carry more in situations where the correct answer isn't "use a tank / truck, dummy." (The value in NBC combat would come from integrated systems, assuming such are possible.)
“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

User avatar
Sea Skimmer
Yankee Capitalist Air Pirate
Posts: 37270
Joined: 2002-07-03 11:49pm
Location: Passchendaele City, HAB
Contact:

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2018-05-06 09:24pm

The thing with replacing any kind of vehicle is, vehicles can somewhat smoothly ride over rough ground thanks to suspension. A guy running in a suit can't, he's still running on legs. This would be very harsh on the human occupant even if his body is only supporting his own weight, and heck even having his own movement actively assisted (the suit moves the body on cue, rather then the body and suit moving together, I think this kind of predictive movement is very plausible) by the power system.

Big advantages could be had in NBC warfare and particularly radiological contamination conditions. But overheating is still a big problem, even if you have plenty of electrical power an air conditioning system for a person is limited by the size of it's radiator and in say, desert conditions, it's going to be really hard to keep the guy cool with any known refrigerant.

Generally power armor improves defense against high ROF and large area of effect weapons, but it will increase vulnerability to larger and slower firing systems, because the user is just a bigger and better target and it's never going to mount armor to stop weapons designed to defeat tanks. The advantages are very situational as a result.

The logical way to use power armor is as another service arm, rather then replacing any existing system or even inserting directly into any existing TO&E. LIke you want a power armor infantry battalion in your tank division, rather then placing a power armor platoon in each regular infantry battalion. That way you can task organize for the situations at hand. This does create major training problems but I don't see a way around that unless the unit in question is only expected to fight in very specific geographic areas.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956

User avatar
KraytKing
Padawan Learner
Posts: 270
Joined: 2016-04-11 06:39pm
Location: Wayland

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by KraytKing » 2018-05-07 07:41am

The thing about heavy armor is that sure, they can kill it still with a bigger gun, but that big gun is expensive and difficult to use. It's the same logic as a tank: a tank is a much bigger target than a HMMWV, but is so much more heavily armored that taking it out is non-trivial. We can kill tanks, but it's hard. I feel like the same would be true for power armor users. The size increases, but they become so difficult to kill it's worth it.

You can sort of see the pattern in the past. In WWII, we didn't much use body armor other than helmets; back then, one might argue that it made someone too much of a target. The average soldier has become a much larger target by now, but also is much harder to kill. Handguns and shrapnel are far less effective. In this instance, the power armor would simply take it up a notch: handguns and shrapnel would be completely ineffective, as would most SMGs, assault rifles, shotguns, or underpowered IEDs. Medium machine guns (say, M249) would be about as effective as rifles are on modern armor. HMGs and heavy sniper rifles would be able to punch through, but those are more rare, making the soldier more protected. In an asymmetric warfare scenario, they become vastly more effective, because the opponent seldom has access to these heavy weapons.
If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

--Mace

User avatar
Gunhead
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 1642
Joined: 2004-11-15 08:08am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Gunhead » 2018-05-07 09:43am

KraytKing wrote:
2018-05-07 07:41am
The thing about heavy armor is that sure, they can kill it still with a bigger gun, but that big gun is expensive and difficult to use. It's the same logic as a tank: a tank is a much bigger target than a HMMWV, but is so much more heavily armored that taking it out is non-trivial. We can kill tanks, but it's hard. I feel like the same would be true for power armor users. The size increases, but they become so difficult to kill it's worth it.
This analogy is faulty. Tanks are tough to kill because of their ability combine firepower, mobility and armor. In tank terms, armor is the last line of defense, that's when you've failed to to kill the enemy, failed to outmaneuver him and he has scored a hit on you. Only then you rely on your armor to either stop the attack or at least make it survivable. This proposed powerarmor only really marginally ups the level of protection and firepower for the one man using it. A Panzer IIF would still have it beat in all three major categories of protection, mobility and firepower, while being a far more multiuse platform.
KraytKing wrote: You can sort of see the pattern in the past. In WWII, we didn't much use body armor other than helmets; back then, one might argue that it made someone too much of a target. The average soldier has become a much larger target by now, but also is much harder to kill. Handguns and shrapnel are far less effective. In this instance, the power armor would simply take it up a notch: handguns and shrapnel would be completely ineffective, as would most SMGs, assault rifles, shotguns, or underpowered IEDs. Medium machine guns (say, M249) would be about as effective as rifles are on modern armor. HMGs and heavy sniper rifles would be able to punch through, but those are more rare, making the soldier more protected. In an asymmetric warfare scenario, they become vastly more effective, because the opponent seldom has access to these heavy weapons.
The only reason we didn't see more body armor for infantry was the lack of technology to make it, aside from that, your claim is only true if this proposed armor can have universal protection against at least 7.62Nato AP. This is because you also need to armor all the major components of the suit that give it power, mobility and like Skimmer pointed out, keep him cool. Preferably your man in PA should be able to take at least 12.7mm non AP rounds but by the time you get to that level of protection, you're going to be heavy as all hell and still be vulnerable to essentially most man portable heavy weapons and IEDs. In places like Afganistan older soviet 12.7mm HMGs are dime a dozen and if you can only really deploy fantastic bullet proof power armor in Kabul.. what's the point?

Now if I could design a non power armor package for infantry that say.. provides protection against small caliber rifle fire to head and torso, fragmentation resistance to arms and legs and increases resistance to concussion that's light enough to be fielded by essentially all of the infantry forces. I'd have every major military knocking on my door in a heartbeat. That is because increasing toughness throughout the organization is more worthwhile than making a few guys really tough. That's why right up into the 1990's to 2000's, armies issued protection against shrapnel. It was during Vietnam that U.S seriously started looking into giving at least some troops like helicopter machine gunners protection against direct hits from rifle bullets.

-Gunhead
"In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it."
-Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel

"And if you don't wanna feel like a putz
Collect the clues and connect the dots
You'll see the pattern that is bursting your bubble, and it's Bad" -The Hives

User avatar
KraytKing
Padawan Learner
Posts: 270
Joined: 2016-04-11 06:39pm
Location: Wayland

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by KraytKing » 2018-05-07 10:42am

Gunhead wrote:
2018-05-07 09:43am

The only reason we didn't see more body armor for infantry was the lack of technology to make it, aside from that, your claim is only true if this proposed armor can have universal protection against at least 7.62Nato AP. This is because you also need to armor all the major components of the suit that give it power, mobility and like Skimmer pointed out, keep him cool. Preferably your man in PA should be able to take at least 12.7mm non AP rounds but by the time you get to that level of protection, you're going to be heavy as all hell and still be vulnerable to essentially most man portable heavy weapons and IEDs. In places like Afganistan older soviet 12.7mm HMGs are dime a dozen and if you can only really deploy fantastic bullet proof power armor in Kabul.. what's the point?
Sure, HMGs may be pretty common, but they're more difficult to use. Anything that shoots a bullet that big is going to be heavy as hell and have recoil to match. It can kill our power armored soldier, but only from an emplacement; avoiding it shouldn't be too difficult, nor would it be hard to take out. Of course, usually emplacement weapons are protected by ordinary infantry on the flanks, but this trooper is immune to ordinary infantry.

Large caliber snipers will probably be pretty effective at killing these guys, but no more effective than they are at killing regular infantry. And just because the trooper dies doesn't mean that the armor's totally trashed; if they punch a hole through his faceplate, all the rest of the bits are still serviceable.

KraytKing wrote:
2018-05-07 07:41am
The thing about heavy armor is that sure, they can kill it still with a bigger gun, but that big gun is expensive and difficult to use. It's the same logic as a tank: a tank is a much bigger target than a HMMWV, but is so much more heavily armored that taking it out is non-trivial. We can kill tanks, but it's hard. I feel like the same would be true for power armor users. The size increases, but they become so difficult to kill it's worth it.
This analogy is faulty. Tanks are tough to kill because of their ability combine firepower, mobility and armor. In tank terms, armor is the last line of defense, that's when you've failed to to kill the enemy, failed to outmaneuver him and he has scored a hit on you. Only then you rely on your armor to either stop the attack or at least make it survivable.
I think power armor could fill those categories. If the systems are powerful enough, he can be much more mobile than an ordinary trooper, able to run faster and longer. He could certainly carry a bigger gun and more extras like AT grenades and the like. Everything about the trooper would be improved. There could probably be a pretty good fire control system built in, too, further increasing firepower through accuracy.

This proposed powerarmor only really marginally ups the level of protection and firepower for the one man using it. A Panzer IIF would still have it beat in all three major categories of protection, mobility and firepower, while being a far more multiuse platform.
This is valid, but we're not comparing power armor to a tank. We're comparing it to regular infantry, over which it holds all advantages save price. Our guy is also far more suited for urban combat than a tank.
If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

--Mace

User avatar
Gunhead
Jedi Council Member
Posts: 1642
Joined: 2004-11-15 08:08am

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Gunhead » 2018-05-07 12:19pm

KraytKing wrote:
2018-05-07 10:42am
Sure, HMGs may be pretty common, but they're more difficult to use. Anything that shoots a bullet that big is going to be heavy as hell and have recoil to match. It can kill our power armored soldier, but only from an emplacement; avoiding it shouldn't be too difficult, nor would it be hard to take out. Of course, usually emplacement weapons are protected by ordinary infantry on the flanks, but this trooper is immune to ordinary infantry.

Large caliber snipers will probably be pretty effective at killing these guys, but no more effective than they are at killing regular infantry. And just because the trooper dies doesn't mean that the armor's totally trashed; if they punch a hole through his faceplate, all the rest of the bits are still serviceable.
Not really. If there were some major difficulties in using them, they wouldn't be littered all over 3rd world battlefields and I know because I've used one. In Afganistan the constant problem for the coalition forces has been rebels attacking them from ambush with heavy machineguns, then slinking out before any sort of effective attack can be mounted against them. Now if you could have someone lug around a HMG it would give them something to respond with, but this is just one of the niche roles where PA might be useful but that's debatable based on cost, ease of maintenance and general usefulness of the system.

Here's the rub(s) on the 2nd point. Even if the suit remains operational, you then have to stick a guy inside it right after you scoop out the remains of the last operator, it most likely wouldn't be combat effective anymore without repairs and evacuating some 400kg of man and PA is significantly harder than 80kg of dead/wounded guy, requiring a vehicle even if all the people are in PA because of the weight or demolish it and leave it.
Where still, your multithousand PA was taken out of action by a guy with a gun and a 13$ bullet. While expensive weapon systems all suffer from similar problems to greater or lesser extent, here the gain vs. cost is particularly bad.
KraytKing wrote: I think power armor could fill those categories. If the systems are powerful enough, he can be much more mobile than an ordinary trooper, able to run faster and longer. He could certainly carry a bigger gun and more extras like AT grenades and the like. Everything about the trooper would be improved. There could probably be a pretty good fire control system built in, too, further increasing firepower through accuracy.
Actually no. He could haul more gear but their speed, overall mobility and endurance is still limited by the man inside and by the suit itself. Since this is a worn suit, you really just move with it but you're still doing physical labour and overall endurance wouldn't be improved all that much, and this is assuming the suits don't fall apart all the time. They'd still need maintaining and that takes up space and weight. If the basic.. hmm.. lets say "Agility" of the basic infantryman is lost (able to go into buildings, use cover etc.) is compromised, then the whole PA concept starts to fall apart. On the optics.. well your helmet space is limited so any optics would be mounted on the weapon.. so they'd probably wouldn't be all that better than what you'd have available to people using a similar weapon from a fixed position.
KraytKing wrote: This is valid, but we're not comparing power armor to a tank. We're comparing it to regular infantry, over which it holds all advantages save price. Our guy is also far more suited for urban combat than a tank.
We're not, I just used that as example how easy it is to build a vehicle to carry a 20mm cannon and a MG, just imagine how cheap something like that would be today.
The big point was that if you think it through, again to paraphrase what Skimmer said, PA is only viable if has the right support structures built around it, which all need to be bigger, more specialized and thus more expensive and with a good chance they cannot easily be adopted to serve conventional infantry or are just too expensive to do so and the very least it gives your army one more specialized support trail.

Again no. Tanks have proved themselves in urban combat everytime they've been used correctly. If I had to choose between the specialized HMG carrier and a tank, I'd choose the tank every time. The ability to wreck shit up to a multi KM range is a proven force multiplier. PA or no, infantry without support is fucked beyond all recognition no matter what the combat environment is. Urban combat just means the tank takes a more supporting role but by same token infantry tactics in urban environment are a lot different from what you'd use on a "conventional" battlefield.
So a working PA would have advantages over normal infantry in an urban combat scenario but only if it's light enough, endurable enough and you can field them in sufficient numbers.... and then if you can float the cost.

-Gunhead
"In the absence of orders, go find something and kill it."
-Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel

"And if you don't wanna feel like a putz
Collect the clues and connect the dots
You'll see the pattern that is bursting your bubble, and it's Bad" -The Hives

User avatar
Zixinus
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 6590
Joined: 2007-06-19 12:48pm
Location: In Seth the Blitzspear
Contact:

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Zixinus » 2018-05-07 01:14pm

The way I see can figure out of this, the best use of power armor is to have one person use a weapon that would otherwise require several people to do.

Like one person can carry a machine gun whereas otherwise you need two-three people to properly operate it (plus encumber more people with it). Even then it's stuck being stationary. Not necessarily a problem for someone in power armor, allowing a mobile machine gun position. Same with mortal positions. You can also do some other stuff with this, like integrating communications and surveillance stuff on them, boosting communications and allowing mobile and powered computer node in an environment where a regular computer has the problem of being riddled with bullets/shrapnel. Consider drones flying around up above and having an armored camera walking on the ground is useful when you need information. Sure, it will make them targets but fragile equipment like computers are already targets. Making them so they can be attached to something that's already armored and mobile can help.

A big question about power armor is how will you carry power armor? Combat is very mobile and even with augmented speed, the top speed of power armor is the cruising speed of a tank with less endurance. Even with power assist, you are still making a guy run between battlefields when you have cars. The only option would be to have power armor attached to cars in a manner that people jump in into their PA from their cars. So you will need to attach power armor fighters to some kind of mobile vehicle or armored vehicle crews that would have both fuel and materials on-hand for repair.
Credo!
Chat with me on Skype if you want to talk about writing, ideas or if you want a test-reader! PM for address.

User avatar
Vendetta
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 10483
Joined: 2002-07-07 04:57pm
Location: Sheffield, UK

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Vendetta » 2018-05-07 01:28pm

Zixinus wrote:
2018-05-07 01:14pm
The way I see can figure out of this, the best use of power armor is to have one person use a weapon that would otherwise require several people to do.
If one person in power armour is as versatile as and requires less logistical infrastructure than the several people without it.


On mobility, even if the power armour is doing all the work, if it is actual armour and not a small vehicle its movement speed is limited to roughly human movement speed because any faster and it would cripple the operator.

And if it is a small vehicle we're getting into "why mecha don't actually work" territory.

Basically all the "it can carry a bigger gun and move faster than infantry" is "we are making a really impractical Scimitar CRV-T".

User avatar
Esquire
Jedi Master
Posts: 1433
Joined: 2011-11-16 11:20pm

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Esquire » 2018-05-07 01:59pm

I wonder if power armor might make sense as a fleet-in-being equivalent for fighting insurgencies - sure, n power-armored troops are massively more expensive than n non-power-armored troops, but (assuming they're durable enough) they're also impervious to a lot of the low-hanging fruit on the weaponry tree. Sure, a peer competitor could defeat them easily with heavy weapons, but if light IEDs and rifle fire aren't really a threat, then securing already-captured territory is a whole lot less bloody or else the opposing insurgency has to spent a lot more money for a lot fewer weapons, which is a win for me in its own way.
“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

User avatar
Jub
Sith Devotee
Posts: 2832
Joined: 2012-08-06 07:58pm
Location: British Columbia, Canada

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Jub » 2018-05-07 02:04pm

Vendetta wrote:
2018-05-07 01:28pm
If one person in power armour is as versatile as and requires less logistical infrastructure than the several people without it.
The sweet spot for power armor is rough terrain where it can go but even a light vehicle would be impractical. Logistics be damned because a majority of your usual heavy support options are already off the table for that scenario.

This works better in a situation where powered suits are already in widespread use and power/cooling issues have been mitigated than as a primary reason to develop powered armor in the first place.

----
Esquire wrote:
2018-05-07 01:59pm
I wonder if power armor might make sense as a fleet-in-being equivalent for fighting insurgencies - sure, n power-armored troops are massively more expensive than n non-power-armored troops, but (assuming they're durable enough) they're also impervious to a lot of the low-hanging fruit on the weaponry tree. Sure, a peer competitor could defeat them easily with heavy weapons, but if light IEDs and rifle fire aren't really a threat, then securing already-captured territory is a whole lot less bloody or else the opposing insurgency has to spent a lot more money for a lot fewer weapons, which is a win for me in its own way.
Better to have regular soldiers in IED and MG proof (RPG resistant) vehicles with drones entering buildings to sweep before the infantry dismount to clear. Maybe have one PA soldier to take point if, and only if, it doesn't put undue strain on your patrol vehicle and logistics.

User avatar
Esquire
Jedi Master
Posts: 1433
Joined: 2011-11-16 11:20pm

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Esquire » 2018-05-07 02:11pm

Would drones be more or less vulnerable to small arms fire/IEDs than power armored troops, do you think? There might be a sliding scale of risk to humans vs. cost to government involved; I don't know enough about either to be sure.
“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

User avatar
Esquire
Jedi Master
Posts: 1433
Joined: 2011-11-16 11:20pm

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Esquire » 2018-05-07 02:12pm

But yeah, obviously if I'd have to build a whole parallel logistics network to make everything work, it'd be prohibitively expensive compared to 'throw drones at the problem until it goes away.'
“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Post Reply