This Powered Exoskeleton Is Here To Make Ruck Marching A Breeze

Military Tech

In 1959, Robert A. Heinlein published his iconic sci-fi military epic Starship Troopers, popularizing the concept of exoskeleton body armor that allows soldiers to carry more and move further and faster. Now, after many years of trial and error, Lockheed Martin is finally sending a pair of robot legs known as ONYX to the Army for field testing.


The 10th Mountain Division has been selected as the first Army unit to test out the ONYX lower body exoskeleton. The ONYX is a powered electro-mechanical system controlled by a computer that calculates how to best keep the load off when you are humping through the bush. According to Lockheed, “ONYX ultimately reduces the energy needed to cross terrain, squat, or kneel,” by adding torque at just the right time.

Previous exoskeleton prototypes, such as Lockheed’s Human Universal Load Carrier (or HULC system, because obviously), encompassed the entire body. The ONYX, however, attaches only to the lower body, making it significantly lighter. Slimming down to a leg-based system may also greatly extend battery life, at last solving the power issues that have hobbled exoskeleton development for years.

Lockheed is now in the process of ruggedizing the ONYX for the harsh conditions that grunts will encounter in miserable places like Afghanistan and Fort Polk. This involves waterproofing the system and upgrading it with faster actuators, which allow the joints to move like a knee.

Exoskeleton technology has gotten off to a clunky start, but that’s to be expected. Consider the evolution of night vision devices, which were just a notch above useless when they debuted during World War II. By the early 1990s, American military strategy practically revolved around our ability to fight around the clock. So while the ONYX is a far cry from the power armor Heinlein envisioned, it is certainly a step in that direction, and that in itself is significant.

The future power armor, or 'suits', that fueled the military against the invading aliens.Warner Bros

A enlisted thinktank brought to you by Task & Purpose

The FBI is treating the recent shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, as a terrorist attack, several media outlets reported on Sunday.

"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," USA Today quoted FBI Agent Rachel Rojas as saying at a news conference.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un risks losing "everything" if he resumes hostility and his country must denuclearize, after the North said it had carried out a "successful test of great significance."

"Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way. He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore," Trump said on Twitter, referring to his first summit with Kim in Singapore in 2018.

"He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November," he said.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vaughan Dill/Released)

The three sailors whose lives were cut short by a gunman at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, on Friday "showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil," said base commander Navy Capt. Tim Kinsella.

Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters were killed in the shooting, the Navy has announced.

Read More Show Less

The Pentagon has a credibility problem that is the result of the White House's scorched earth policy against any criticism. As a result, all statements from senior leaders are suspect.

We're beyond the point of defense officials being unable to say for certain whether a dog is a good boy or girl. Now we're at the point where the Pentagon has spent three days trying to knock down a Wall Street Journal story about possible deployments to the Middle East, and they've failed to persuade either the press or Congress.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States was considering deploying up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to thwart any potential Iranian attacks. The story made clear that President Trump could ultimately decide to send a smaller number of service members, but defense officials have become fixated on the number 14,000 as if it were the only option on the table.

Read More Show Less

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members' use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military's leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a "clearer view" of the technology "than most people give them credit for."

"That said, I'd give us a 'C-minus' or a 'D' in educating the force on the threat of even technology," Berger said. "Because they view it as two pieces of gear, 'I don't see what the big deal is.'"

Read More Show Less