Combined Arms for Powered Armor

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Jub » 2018-05-07 02:22pm

Esquire wrote:
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.
Your drones aren't huge targets in this scenario. Think RC car that can climb stairs with a camera and mic attached, small enough that being hard to notice/shoot is their defense.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Esquire » 2018-05-07 02:34pm

Ah, gotcha - so it's less 'RC assault-rifle-on-wheels' as it is 'RC spotter for vehicle-mounted grenade launcher,' or whatever. That's definitely more efficient than power armor.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Jub » 2018-05-07 02:44pm

Esquire wrote:
2018-05-07 02:34pm
Ah, gotcha - so it's less 'RC assault-rifle-on-wheels' as it is 'RC spotter for vehicle-mounted grenade launcher,' or whatever. That's definitely more efficient than power armor.
That and if vehicle weapons don't work you now have intel to make the typical sweep and clear with soldiers safer.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by KraytKing » 2018-05-07 03:31pm

No matter what, it's going to be more difficult to shoot big bullets than small ones. No matter how many HMGs there are lying around, you can't equip every trooper with them or maintain anywhere near the old level of mobility. Sure, if they walk into an ambush with universal tripod-mounted machineguns, they'll eat it, but so would anything else, even Humvees. It's wherever they don't have anything bigger than an AK that it shines.
Gunhead wrote:
2018-05-07 12:19pm
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.
Optics are helpful, but I meant you take advantage of all the servos in between brain and gun hand and use it to stabilize. Inside of the helmet, you can have gunsight camera feed to shoot around corners or over cover, plus stabilization. Firing a rifle would be more like shooting a mounted gun or Call of Duty.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by KraytKing » 2018-05-07 04:24pm

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,
One could say the only reason we don't use full body power armor now is because we lack the technology to make it.

Meant to mention this earlier, but forgot. Twice.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Vendetta » 2018-05-07 04:29pm

Jub wrote:
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.
On the other hand, terrain where vehicles absolutely can't go where you could get power armour to go is going to be rare as well. This is all defining a narrower and narrower niche where power armour fits between infantry and light vehicles, to the point where a force with infantry and light vehicles is also going to be required and just as capable in 99% of situations.

In many kinds of terrain power armour is going to be actively worse than infantry or vehicles. Any kind of soft ground is out, ground pressure is too high (remember, a 65 ton tank has lower ground pressure than an infantryman). Anywhere with lots of dust is probably out because joints and air filters do not play well with dust. Anywhere too hot is a problem for heat dissipation both for power pack, motors, and the user (remember this thing needs to be pretty compact as well). Climbing things is going to use a lot of power because of the weight being moved, meaning poor sustainability in mountainous terrain.

So, what terrain would power armour be better than either infantry or light vehicles?

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Jub » 2018-05-07 05:54pm

Vendetta wrote:
2018-05-07 04:29pm
Jub wrote:
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.
On the other hand, terrain where vehicles absolutely can't go where you could get power armour to go is going to be rare as well. This is all defining a narrower and narrower niche where power armour fits between infantry and light vehicles, to the point where a force with infantry and light vehicles is also going to be required and just as capable in 99% of situations.

In many kinds of terrain power armour is going to be actively worse than infantry or vehicles. Any kind of soft ground is out, ground pressure is too high (remember, a 65 ton tank has lower ground pressure than an infantryman). Anywhere with lots of dust is probably out because joints and air filters do not play well with dust. Anywhere too hot is a problem for heat dissipation both for power pack, motors, and the user (remember this thing needs to be pretty compact as well). Climbing things is going to use a lot of power because of the weight being moved, meaning poor sustainability in mountainous terrain.

So, what terrain would power armour be better than either infantry or light vehicles?
Heavily forested terrain that is also hilly but not covered in cliffs comes to mind. Though really, the whole ever-narrowing niche pretty well proves that power armor probably won't be worth it on the scale sci-fi wishes it could be. Power assisted lifting sans armor will have all kinds of rear line and artillery uses but attaching armor to that kind of rig doesn't make for a space marine.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-05-07 06:41pm

I could see power armoured *spacesuits* being a thing for certain forces, and in general power armour might be useful in spec-ops contexts actually. It would give the operators a way to hump heavy weapons and all that. But honestly? It's probably gonna be one of those things that are pretty cool in concept, but end up being pretty limited in application, and fairly restricted to those who can afford it until the tech becomes commonly available and cheap.

Civilian applications for powered exoskeletons are far more likely. I can see, for example, them being used to carry heavy armour for EOD/bomb squads, or SWAT hostile-entry teams. Beyond police work... demolitions, heavy construction in awkward areas, medical therapy and whatnot.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Jub » 2018-05-07 07:11pm

Yeah, exosuits make a lot of sense and for 'fixed' positions you can even power them externally meaning less investment in the most cutting-edge batteries thus lowering costs even more. It also means that you're likely to see military exosuits on bases or near something like an artillery battery, places where it's easier to run a line from suit to a generator and where armor and all that it entails doesn't need to be worn.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Gunhead » 2018-05-09 06:51am

KraytKing wrote: No matter what, it's going to be more difficult to shoot big bullets than small ones. No matter how many HMGs there are lying around, you can't equip every trooper with them or maintain anywhere near the old level of mobility. Sure, if they walk into an ambush with universal tripod-mounted machineguns, they'll eat it, but so would anything else, even Humvees. It's wherever they don't have anything bigger than an AK that it shines.
Again, the ability to hit with a weapon or a weapon system is a matter of training so actual bullet size is pretty much a moot point and if you're gunning for range, bigger is better. You don't need to equip every trooper with a HMG, and you wouldn't do it with powerarmor either due to weight and space constraints. Basic assault rifles already are pretty ineffectual in the grand scheme of things, that's why insurgents resort to bombs, IEDS and terror to achieve their goals. In that sense even if PA worked as intended, it really wouldn't change the preferred tactics of insurgents so a situation where the enemy doesn't have anything bigger than an AK will never exist. Not to mention that if powerarmor became viable, every army could start buying antimaterial rifles of varied calibers, thus making them more available = they end up in the hands of terrorists.

KraytKing wrote: Optics are helpful, but I meant you take advantage of all the servos in between brain and gun hand and use it to stabilize. Inside of the helmet, you can have gunsight camera feed to shoot around corners or over cover, plus stabilization. Firing a rifle would be more like shooting a mounted gun or Call of Duty.
No it wouldn't be. Specially if you're carrying something even remotely as heavy as a heavy machinegun. For rifle weapons, yea it would be easier to absorb recoil and maybe design a system where the suit gets more rigid when the weapon fires, but to fully stabilize a weapon with a humanoid form is seriously hard and to do this while maintaining something close to base human agility, good luck with that. Which brings us back to cost, people can be plenty accurate with a rifle even without a massively expensive suit so even if it worked like you said, it still would be a minor upgrade with a huge price tag. It would be easier if the weapon(s) and the suits shared high level of integration but that could lead to loss of versatility and sighting systems we already have work just fine to intended ranges so there's no real need to make stuff needlessly complex.
Now as it comes to improved sensors and communication, that's one of the things a power armor would be good for. You could carry Therman, NV, Better optics and all sorts of situational awareness aids. Not to mention drone controllers, drones themselves which would be far better than just be a mobile HMG station.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Sky Captain » 2018-05-09 03:42pm

PA may be useful for clearing buildings. Heavy weapons are more cumbersome to use inside buildings with limited space. If PA can shrug off assault rifles, pistols and hand grenades that's a lot of weapons that become ineffective against PA, but deadly to regular infantry. It is a niche application, but PA in near future when developed will be niche product, because each suit will be expensive.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-05-09 05:03pm

Sky Captain wrote:
2018-05-09 03:42pm
PA may be useful for clearing buildings. Heavy weapons are more cumbersome to use inside buildings with limited space. If PA can shrug off assault rifles, pistols and hand grenades that's a lot of weapons that become ineffective against PA, but deadly to regular infantry. It is a niche application, but PA in near future when developed will be niche product, because each suit will be expensive.
The obvious counter to this: make your entrances smaller and force them to work harder to make their way through the building. Probably a lot cheaper than having PA of your own, too.

It's a similar situation to insurgents cobbling together an IED from a few spare explosives and some electronics to blow up a million-dollar APC and soldiers trained at hundred-thousand-dollar costs.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by KraytKing » 2018-05-09 05:48pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-05-09 05:03pm
Sky Captain wrote:
2018-05-09 03:42pm
PA may be useful for clearing buildings. Heavy weapons are more cumbersome to use inside buildings with limited space. If PA can shrug off assault rifles, pistols and hand grenades that's a lot of weapons that become ineffective against PA, but deadly to regular infantry. It is a niche application, but PA in near future when developed will be niche product, because each suit will be expensive.
The obvious counter to this: make your entrances smaller and force them to work harder to make their way through the building. Probably a lot cheaper than having PA of your own, too.
Even simpler counter-solution: get creative with your ordnance. Alright, maybe you have to worry about structural integrity, but still.

Actually, I'm not sure this would be a problem. Making doorways substantially smaller isn't difficult, but it is if you want to keep them from just smashing it. You would need your structures to be designed that way from the start. Correct me if I'm wrong, but ISIS isn't doing much in the way of construction. Perhaps ramshackle hovels, but those are the sort of thing a PAed soldier would just smash open, or shoot from the outside. The house-to-house fighting is taking place inside buildings built by the previous government, so in order for them to have smaller doors, they would have had to be built that way in peacetime. This strikes me as somewhat impractical, like something North Korea would do.
It's a similar situation to insurgents cobbling together an IED from a few spare explosives and some electronics to blow up a million-dollar APC and soldiers trained at hundred-thousand-dollar costs.
But we persist in this scenario, don't we? We still use expensive trucks and soldiers despite their apparent vulnerability. Why would PA be any different?
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by KraytKing » 2018-05-09 05:56pm

Gunhead wrote:
2018-05-09 06:51am
KraytKing wrote: No matter what, it's going to be more difficult to shoot big bullets than small ones. No matter how many HMGs there are lying around, you can't equip every trooper with them or maintain anywhere near the old level of mobility. Sure, if they walk into an ambush with universal tripod-mounted machineguns, they'll eat it, but so would anything else, even Humvees. It's wherever they don't have anything bigger than an AK that it shines.
Again, the ability to hit with a weapon or a weapon system is a matter of training so actual bullet size is pretty much a moot point and if you're gunning for range, bigger is better.
I meant logistically more difficult. Difficult for a government to shoot bigger bullets, not a human.

I will say that you aren't likely to see an M4 equivalent that shoots .50 BMG anytime soon, though, which I would say means it's harder to shoot big bullets, in a certain sense.
You don't need to equip every trooper with a HMG, and you wouldn't do it with powerarmor either due to weight and space constraints. Basic assault rifles already are pretty ineffectual in the grand scheme of things, that's why insurgents resort to bombs, IEDS and terror to achieve their goals. In that sense even if PA worked as intended, it really wouldn't change the preferred tactics of insurgents so a situation where the enemy doesn't have anything bigger than an AK will never exist. Not to mention that if powerarmor became viable, every army could start buying antimaterial rifles of varied calibers, thus making them more available = they end up in the hands of terrorists.
Look, I'm trying to keep it simple. In the average firefight, is every insurgent equipped with a) an IED b) an HMG? Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the answer is no. What do the rest of them have? Various firearms which are still pretty good at killing soft humans. Firearms that would be less effective at killing power armored soldiers. Thus, lives are saved, without the suit being nearly so cumbersome as a Humvee or other vehicle.

No it wouldn't be. [snip]
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2018-05-09 06:15pm

Giving .50cal BMG chambered weapons to everyone has big practical problems, but remember .50 BMG was designed in WW1 as an anti aircraft cartridge. A lot of other options exist without even considering paper studies. Such as that .338 Norman Magnum LWMMG that basically weighs the same as an M240 (thanks to lots of titanium) and has only marginally heavier ammo if you use the latest lightweight belt links instead of cold war ere 7.62mm ones.

This gives about double the muzzle energy of 7.62mm NATO at the muzzle, but much more energy at ranges beyond a few hundred meters, and of course it'd just work out a lot better if you wanted to fire some kind of discarding sabot round.

Also keep in mind even all those MRAPs the US Army bought aren't proof against .50cal gunfire at moderate ranges and good angles. The LAV-25 many people fawn over for lol...it's armor is only rated to stop the AK-47 point blank!

it'd be very demanding to make a power suit that can stop a .50cal kind of attack even with armor that cannot resist multiple hits. Real armor protection is likely to be significantly lower and allow for much more compact guns to be used against it. That abortive German 9x90mm cartridge always comes to my mind when power armor comes up. It wasn't exactly compact but it could go in semi auto gun that was readily man portable in a way an M107 rifle isn't. Cold war turning into the forget Russia exists war nerfed it.

Also gotta consider that stuff like HEAT warhead shotgun cartridges could become commonplace instead of rare lol if power armor really got somewhere. I don't see much reason why people couldn't improvise these if they have access to detonators and explosives already as insurgents generally will.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Zixinus » 2018-05-10 07:32am

The other thing is that unless your power armor has magical force-field shields, any material used for the power armor can be used to armor regular troops and more importantly, tanks (and vehicles in general). Which means that an army facing any opponent that has that kind of armor will modify its general-line weaponry to penetrate those materials. Which again brings power armor into question.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Sky Captain » 2018-05-10 10:04am

During wars in Iraq and Afganistan coalition forces often lost troops when their vehicle got blown up by IED. I wonder how power armor would change that. If every soldier riding in vehicles would have power armor it would certainly icrease survivability during IED or RPG attack , but how much? Would it be worthwile increase in protection? Maybe better solution just to develop more bomb resistant vehicles.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by KraytKing » 2018-05-10 10:08am

Penetrating heavier armor will require heavier guns, guns that regular infantry may not be able to carry. A power armored soldier can carry AT guns larger than what regular infantry can carry. The best weapon for killing a power armored soldier will be another power armored soldier, just like how current infantry work. They'll also be just as good at killing uparmored tanks as current infantry are, while unarmored infantry will be mostly useless without heavy mounted weapons.

Essentially, I think that upgrading one thing will lead to upgrades of all things. Bigger soldiers, bigger guns, bigger tanks.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-05-10 11:30am

Depends on the thickness of armor which can be supported by the armor's servos. If thin enough, a 7.62mm×39 battle rifle should provide sufficient penetration. Even the 40mm grenade launcher (with an AT grenade)option on the M16 series assault rifles/carbines( and similar)should do the trick.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Gunhead » 2018-05-10 12:33pm

KraytKing wrote:
2018-05-10 10:08am
Penetrating heavier armor will require heavier guns, guns that regular infantry may not be able to carry. A power armored soldier can carry AT guns larger than what regular infantry can carry. The best weapon for killing a power armored soldier will be another power armored soldier, just like how current infantry work. They'll also be just as good at killing uparmored tanks as current infantry are, while unarmored infantry will be mostly useless without heavy mounted weapons.

Essentially, I think that upgrading one thing will lead to upgrades of all things. Bigger soldiers, bigger guns, bigger tanks.
You'd be wrong. As Skimmer pointed out, you can do all sorts of things with small caliber weapons if you're going for armor penetration not to mention all types of HEAT ammunition to go along with it. Bigger weapons just are better inherently at penetration, but it's not inherently needed. As to AT weaponry, we already have a whole host of AT weapons that are man portable as is. PA could conceivably field something a bit heavier like Javelin as a two man unit but again the difference isn't all that big since ordinary troops can already move and operate the same. The scale of heavy weapons PA could conceivably wield is fairly limited, for the truly heavy support they'd have to rely on vehicles just like regular infantry. The two main problems are again, weight and volume, even assuming the PA is superduper strong, able to carry hundreds of kilos of weigh, it'll still have to carry it, over terrain and have somewhere to store it. I don't think you fully appreciate how much space even piddly things like .50cal belts take, let alone how quickly the weight becomes an issue. Here's an example, for 300 rounds of .50Cal M2 ball ammunition you'd need a box that's 30cm x 60cm x 15cm and they would weight without the box 35kg, which is probably manageable for weight but the box is already a backpack sized so strapping this on would already limit your carrying capacity, if not by weight then by volume.
If we go by the assumed 350kg limit... that's 85 for the man.. 265kg.. then just to get to about one hit protection against 7.62 x 51mm AP.. another 80kg..(I'm lowballing the armor but lets assume it's hitech) that's 185kg for the frame, electronics, power source and payload for weapons and equipment. That 35kg for ammo alone will eat up a good chunk of what's left.

The best weapon to kill infantry, PA or no, will still be artillery, mortars, mines, IEDS, air power and vehicles because those can carry the really heavy hitters.
And again you're not thinking this through. There's zero reasons, aside from the obvious, why PA would make vehicles bigger. APCs and even stuff like Humvees can easily be fitted with missiles and autocannons of 20mm and up, so they already have sufficient firepower to take out even the most optimistic PA. The only reason why anyone would make an APC bigger, would be to have it transport said PA. This again has nothing to do with armament.
As to bigger soldiers, that's just inherently fucking silly and totally counter productive. If I can make power armor, there's zero reason to make a soldier in it bigger, it's quite the opposite. Smaller guy = smaller suit = less weight = bigger effective payload.

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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Captain Seafort » 2018-05-10 12:56pm

KraytKing wrote:
2018-05-09 05:48pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-05-09 05:03pm
Sky Captain wrote:
2018-05-09 03:42pm
PA may be useful for clearing buildings. Heavy weapons are more cumbersome to use inside buildings with limited space. If PA can shrug off assault rifles, pistols and hand grenades that's a lot of weapons that become ineffective against PA, but deadly to regular infantry. It is a niche application, but PA in near future when developed will be niche product, because each suit will be expensive.
The obvious counter to this: make your entrances smaller and force them to work harder to make their way through the building. Probably a lot cheaper than having PA of your own, too.
Even simpler counter-solution: get creative with your ordnance. Alright, maybe you have to worry about structural integrity, but still.
For that matter, if you're doing serious FISH rather than just CT cordon and search then you probably shouldn't be using doors to start with, even with no better kit than modern armies.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-05-10 03:35pm

Captain Seafort wrote:
2018-05-10 12:56pm
KraytKing wrote:
2018-05-09 05:48pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-05-09 05:03pm


The obvious counter to this: make your entrances smaller and force them to work harder to make their way through the building. Probably a lot cheaper than having PA of your own, too.
Even simpler counter-solution: get creative with your ordnance. Alright, maybe you have to worry about structural integrity, but still.
For that matter, if you're doing serious FISH rather than just CT cordon and search then you probably shouldn't be using doors to start with, even with no better kit than modern armies.
Ordnance is also less of an option if you're attempting to minimize collateral damage. If you become known as the army who won't bother to verify whether buildings are empty of civilians or not before flattening them, that's not going to make you very popular. If you have PA tech, you probably also have the tech to throw a bunch of cheap drone swarms around. Imagine a hundred hummingbird-size drones zooming around a building; they could get in and out, identify anybody holding a gun or ammunition boxes on the floor or whatever, and you probably haven't spent much money even if they manage to fly-swat all of them.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Captain Seafort » 2018-05-10 05:54pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-05-10 03:35pm
Ordnance is also less of an option if you're attempting to minimize collateral damage. If you become known as the army who won't bother to verify whether buildings are empty of civilians or not before flattening them, that's not going to make you very popular.
I'm not talking about flattening buildings, I'm talking about using frame charges to go in through the wall.
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Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by chimericoncogene » 2018-05-11 12:57am

I'm surprised nobody picked up on my "army on segways" concept.

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Rhadamantus
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Posts: 373
Joined: 2016-03-30 02:59pm

Re: Combined Arms for Powered Armor

Post by Rhadamantus » 2018-05-13 02:26pm

Sky Captain wrote:
2018-05-10 10:04am
During wars in Iraq and Afganistan coalition forces often lost troops when their vehicle got blown up by IED. I wonder how power armor would change that. If every soldier riding in vehicles would have power armor it would certainly icrease survivability during IED or RPG attack , but how much? Would it be worthwile increase in protection? Maybe better solution just to develop more bomb resistant vehicles.
You'd probably have to increase APC size for this too then. Honestly, I think that works out to be a net negative.
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