SOCOM is working on a mechanical ‘third arm’ that may tout a drone-killing weapon system

Military Tech

VIDEO: Watch the Army's mechanical 'third arm' in action

U.S. special operations forces could eventually deploy with an articulated mechanical 'third arm' that could potentially detect, track, and classify incoming unmanned aerial systems, Task & Purpose has learned.


The system, currently called the Small Arms Stabilization Platform/Counter Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Weapon System, is one of several subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

The system "combines a lightweight modular gyro-stabilization device to enable the operator to engage targets with more accuracy," Hawkins told Task & Purpose. "It's essentially a system that has a multirole capability against air-ground-and maritime threats."

Army Sgt. Michael Zamora uses a prototype Third Arm exoskeleton to easily aim an 18-pound M249 light machine gun during testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, March 14, 2018. (U.S. Army/Conrad Johnson)

"Not only are we talking the stabilization device that enables the operator to engage with greater accuracy, but detecting tracking and targeting and classifying targets prior to engagement," Hawkins added. "There's potential for an auto-detect feature. The specific capabilities aren't sketched out yet, but we've identified several for further maturation and testing."

Hawkins declined to specify if that counter-UAS solution would include either a kinetic or a directed energy solution, noting that the system remains in its earliest stages.

First introduced in 2013, SOCOM's TALOS suit purported a slew of capabilities integrated into a unified, armor-plated exoskeleton. But while SOCOM officials confirmed in February that the TALOS Mk 5 combat prototype wasn't ready for prime time due to a lack of suit-wide interconnectivity, Hawkins told Task & Purpose that the command is currently exploring 10 subsystems for "further maturation and testing."

The Army has been working on its own "third arm" for several years. In May 2018, the Army Research Laboratory published footage of soldiers operating 22-pound M249 and 25-pound M240B machine guns on the mechanical harness at an urban training exercise site at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

"We get comments from soldiers who tell us different things about the way it feels on their body… about the way it redistributes the load,"ARL engineer Dan Baechle said in an Army release at the time. "Some like it, some give us tips about the ways it could be improved, and we're using that input to improve the device and improve the design so that it not only works well, but it also feels good."

While it's currently unclear how much SOCOM's own third arm borrows from the ARL effort, we do have a dream as to what it should look like if it actually sees fielding in the future:

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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.'"

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