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The Army’s Latest Mechanical Gadget Is Ripped Right From ‘Aliens’
As you round the corner, gracefully pieing the cavernous doorways of an abandoned installation with your M249 squad automatic weapon, you hear a squadmate hiss: “Something is coming!”
Spinning on a dime, you turn just in time. You’re fluid and quick, not sluggish like the machine gunners of past wars, weighed down by heavy weapon systems, tons of ammunition, and equipped with just two arms. You bring your weapon to bear, a third mechanical arm doing all the heavy lifting, and decimate the enemy in a hail of gunfire.
If you think this sounds like a scene from James Cameron’s “Aliens,” you’re right. If you think it sounds like pure science fiction, you’re wrong.
The Army recently announced its plans to create a mechanical arm that would attach to the back of a soldier’s tactical vest, notes Tony Lombardo of Defense News. Called the Third Arm, it’s an ultralight exoskeleton that literally carries a warfighter's weapon allowing him to show up to battle well-rested and ready to kick ass, and provides additional stability, which means greater accuracy.
Based on the Army’s description, it would function a lot like the harness for the M56A2 Smart Gun from “Aliens,” the harness that allowed colonial Marine machine gunners to move quickly, provided reduced recoil when firing, and helped distribute the weapon system’s weight, all of which enhanced a gunner’s combat effectiveness.
Designed by the Army Research Laboratory, the arm is a 4-pound carbon-fiber exoskeleton which attaches to a soldier’s back via their tactical vest and connects to the weapon’s Picatinny rail system, Defense News reports. The arm is also ambidextrous and can be mounted on either side of the body. A recent demo covered by Defense News showed just an M4 carbine, but the arm is capable of hefting heavier weapon systems, up to 20 pounds.
The Army's Third Arm is designed to help a soldier distribute a weapon's weight, making movement easier and keeping them fresh for battle.Defense News photo by Tony Lombardo
The arm could also be adapted to carry a breaching saw or a shield, which is more reminiscent of “The Running Man” and steampunk franchises like “Road Warrior” than it is of space Marines and sci-fi, but it’s still pretty badass.
Though still in its infancy, researchers have begun to run the prototype through live-fire exercises to see how it impacts marksmanship and muscle activity. Future tests will see how using the arm impacts shooting on the move, hitting moving targets, unconventional firing positions as well as recoil mitigation.
Essentially, the Army is actively trying to arm soldiers with equipment and weaponry plucked straight from one of the greatest sci-fi action films ever made. So the only thing you’ve really gotta ask yourself is: Who’s ready for a bug hunt?
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.