How effective would power armor be in real life?

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by Shaodeus, May 15, 2016.

  1. Shaodeus

    Shaodeus Still Mildly Glowing

    279
    Apr 28, 2016
    So how would Power Armor be applied for military purposes? How much abuse would it take? What would its strengths and weaknesses be?
     
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  2. mrchaos

    mrchaos Super Orc

    478
    Nov 14, 2015
    For military purposes i would say it could be use for quick strike teams to overhelm specific targets. And I guess when it cames to durability, in modern military it would need rigorous maintance just like anything thats mechanic.
    In terms of strenghts and weaknesses it would be immune to pretty much every kind of small arms except for large calibers like .50 cal and it would be weak against highgrade explosives, mines and heavy artillery.
     
  3. eissa

    eissa Altáriel, Lady of Radiant Garland

    Jan 7, 2016

    nope, a single .38 cal bullet/equivalent will suffice. considering that is also the reason why BoS getting kicked by NCR in Helios plant. a NCR ranger armed with sniper rifle aims at the weak joint of T-51 PA
     
  4. mrchaos

    mrchaos Super Orc

    478
    Nov 14, 2015
    The discussion is how power armor would be use in real life. Gameplay mechanics don´t apply.
     
  5. eissa

    eissa Altáriel, Lady of Radiant Garland

    Jan 7, 2016
    it's lore

    "the outer shell of the T-51b is lightweight and capable of absorbing over 2500 Joules of kinetic impact."

    put it againts full power rifle cartridge, see how the operator fare with such trauma. and as i said, such skilled sharpshooter like ncr ranger could just aim at PA weak spot or servo motor. even worse, the huge shade of PA itself just make it easy target.

    as result, PA soldier is great investment for quickly bring heavy weaponry into the battlefield. which, mirroring what role the real life exosuit would serve. like in edge of tomorrow film.
     
  6. BairdEC

    BairdEC It Wandered In From the Wastes

    146
    Jun 21, 2015
    Realistically, the biggest limitation will be the power supply. We can make a usable exoskeleton to support several hundred pounds of armor and equipment, but making a power plant that can run for a useful amount of time is currently difficult. We've seen this with the prototype pack robots we've been toying with. The armor would have other weaknesses; the wearer still needs to move, breathe, and see. On the other hand, most combatants are not as good a shot as a sniper, and military training teaches soldiers to aim for the center of mass (sternum) because it gives the best chance of hitting the target. In US basic marksmanship training, the only target silhouette that does not represent a man from hips to head is the 50m target, which is a head-and-shoulders silhouette.

    Assuming you have a feasible power supply, the armor could be made so that the wearer is impervious to most small arms, probably requiring 12.7x101/ .50BMG or 14.7mm to kill reliably (ignoring lucky shots to joints, eyepieces, or other thin spots). Powered armor should allow the wearer to carry and effectively use weapons that would be mounted on a tripod/ pintle and crew-served for non-powered troops. Other than anti-tank missiles or a recoilless rifle, I don't see the power armor having a strong role against heavy armor (main battle tanks). MBTs might get a second, or upgraded, coaxial machine gun to deal with power armor, but most designs already include a heavy machine gun for light armor and anti-aircraft use.
     
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  7. Hassknecht

    Hassknecht For hate's sake. Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Aug 16, 2010
    I guess it depends on what kind of power armour we're talking about. Is it the Fallout-style heavy "mech suit" walking tank? Rigid outer shell, not exactly very fast, but very strong? Could be good so that single soldiers can carry heavier weapons and are better protected and more mobile in urban areas.
    Or is it some sort of artificial muscle skinsuit like Crysis? Given the right technology that would be very useful for recon and stuff like that.
    Does anyone know the manga "Red Eyes"?

    These suits are heavily armed and armoured, but also very quick due to maneuvering jets.
    I guess the most realistic design (as in, with current technology except the power source) would be something like the exoskeleton in STALKER.

    A normal, heavy body armour and an exoskeleton that boosts your strength and stamina. Good for long marches with heavy equipment, and useful for base operations like loading ammo.
     
  8. peadar87

    peadar87 Still Mildly Glowing

    244
    Jun 4, 2015
    I always imagined they would be most useful for urban warfare. They'd be very resistant against small-arms fire like SMGs and shotguns, as well as splash damage from explosions. To a lesser extent, glancing blows even from heavier weaponry would tend to be deflected, rather than penetrate the armour. They'd be ideal for fighting street-to-street, or building-to-building, with no long lines of sight or wide open areas to cross. On an open battlefield, PA troops would be sitting ducks for snipers with high-calibre weapons, fixed gun emplacements, artillery, tanks, and aircraft.

    If you were fighting the Chinese in the streets of Shanghai or Beijing, a power-armoured trooper, small enough to hide effectively in an urban environment, yet strong and durable enough to not only resist most small-arms fire, but to carry heavy enough weapons to take out tanks and aircraft, would be a formidable asset.
     
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  9. eissa

    eissa Altáriel, Lady of Radiant Garland

    Jan 7, 2016
    i always fan of the nanosuit, that thing could survive atmosphere entry without the aid of landing pod, able to repair itself using its semi-organic nanites and able to do "kicking alien" with what basically clinically death operator. put it with any other sci fi trope of power armor and it will win at every situation. eh...minus forerunner combat skin though :P
     
  10. Einhanderc7

    Einhanderc7 Vat dipped, grown and still oozing with perfection

    858
    Apr 22, 2016
    This is a difficult topic for me simply because I have first hand combat experience, and I love power armor. To be honest, while Power Armor affords a unique kind of protection. It does not make for a very good asset in today's field of operations.

    The reason I say this is due to the fact that while it is very mobile in its design, power armor is still very restrictive. I cannot imagine going from a prone position to standing in a reasonable amount of time in that armor, not being able to utilize cover effectively with it on, or being able to quickly sprint.

    The lack of "stealth" would also make a support system like this fail in the theater of war. Not only does this armor system make noise while walking and idle it would also be like walking around with a target painted on you as the moment a enemy combatant sees someone in armor such as this their are going to utilize the heaviest hitting weapons against them. Sure camo painted plates will reduce the armors profile, but not enough to prevent someone from spotting them a mile away like they would a vehicle.

    But an armor system like this is almost ideal for close quarters conflicts, if you are clearing rooms in a building this is reasonable equipment choice just so stray bullets and shrapnel won't hurt you as much. But the helmet restricts visibility and seriously hinders users from getting a large view of their situation.

    As a mobile crew served weapons platform power armor introduces some interesting flexibility, such as allowing deployed personnel to take a .50 cal with them, without to much difficulty. But if the user is not a good shot like they are when the weapon is mounted I would expect a large degree of collateral damage and civilian casualties.

    Overall power armor like the Fallout Universe has is obsolete by today's warfare standards. In other words this armor is not designed for A symmetrical warfare.

    If the power armor was redesigned for the needs of today, I expect it to be completely different, much lighter, and only deployed in very small amounts.
     
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  11. Shaodeus

    Shaodeus Still Mildly Glowing

    279
    Apr 28, 2016
    Thanks I was hoping for a comment like this, so while we are on the topic of warfare. What tactical options would a army of Super Mutants offer? What would be their strengths and weaknesses?
     
  12. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    I think the top priority that has to be solved first, is the power supply. As far as I know, even the most advanced concept they have now in both civilian and military research, use batteries which don't last very long or need external power supplies, like cables. This problem, would have to be solved first, before it could become as common like tanks.
    Another question is reliability. Experience has shown, that wars and conflicts are usually a drain on resources and a nightmare for sophisticated and complex hardware which can't be easily fixed in the field. The Germans, their engineering and tank development are a good example. But they are definetly not alone. The British, Americans and Soviets abandoned the concept of heavy armor for that reason. It simply didn't offer enough advantages on the field, for the costs in resources and maintenance. Even though you could throw a larger gun and better protection on a heavy platform, you had to sacrifice a lot in mobility and reliability. And Guderian already said, a tanks engine is as important like it's gun. And even today, special forces and normal military units experience a lot of issues with their current equpment, as every soldier who served in the mountains of Afghanistan can for sure confirm. Leaving very expensive and sophisticated equipment behind, either because it has malfunctions or lack of power, is of no use. Moebius a Tiger 2 commander who fought in the Ardenes said about his tank "It failed us, when we needed it the most", as his crew was forced to abandon the tank, due to a malfunction in the electric fire mechanism.
    No matter what concept we might see for a power armor, as long as the issue of power supply isn't solved, It most probably won't see a wide spread in the future.

    That's an interesting question! I always wondered how effective, such equipment would actually be in such situations. The question is, how heavy would the armor have to be to offer sufficient protection, since even already a small contingent, can already carry very heavy weaponry with them. Like RPGs, explosives and high caliber weapons, like 50 cal and 12,7mm.
    And most of those weapons can be already operated by 2 if necessary even one person in the field. With surprising efficiency. Pretty much anything that could defeat armored vehicles and tanks, would be sufficient in destroying power armor.

    So how much armor would an individual need, to be sufficiently protected? And is the required protection in relation to the usefullness in such situations? One advantage of armored units, like tanks, is the protection and mobility as gun platform. But once you lose that, it becomes a dead weight and liability to any army. Tanks, by their very design are NOT units that can conquer and hold ground. Tanks like almost every equipment on the field, are there to support the infantry, as only infantry units are capable of achieving tactical goals in the field and actually hold territory.
    And the same questions that counts for tanks, are true for power armors as well, to some extend. Like the question about efficiency, mobility, protection and firepower. Depending on the type of amunition a 50 cal round can already penetrate between 15 and 21mm of armor on 500 meters, and those are not even the heaviest of rounds that can be used by the infantry, as there are also 20mm sniper rifles in use by some armies and the concept of recoiles rifles, which also give you the option to fire larger caliber rounds which can go up to 50mm and even 105mm, albeit those would be mounted on vehicles or platforms. And a damaged tank/vehicle, can be as useless like a destroyed one, if you can't repair it in the field.
    And we have not even talked about newer concepts, like the metal storm and the potential of magnetic/electrical weapons - see gauss/coil gun and laser weapons.
    So any power armor would have to use some really heavy protection, if you want to be sufficiently protected from todays common infantry weapons - or what is available at least. And protection, today, comes in the form of weight. You would probably need a plante of at least 20mm of armor for protection. But probably more. And how much weight would that be in the end? Could it be not efficient to send a tank to do the job, if all you do is shelling the area anyway, so that the infantry can move in?
    I am not ruling out the possibility of power in combat, but we should not forget that weapon system don't stop here. New armors, will see new types of weapons, which will see new kinds of protection. If someone makes a better mouse, someone else will make a better cat. However, I definetly see a use of powered exoskeletons in secondary units, special units and rear units or for constructions, engineering units and the like. The idea to amplify the users power, without the hindrance of power supplies, and the ability to build heavy defences without the need of heavy equipment like bulldozers, definetly could be a huge benefit to a large army.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
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  13. Einhanderc7

    Einhanderc7 Vat dipped, grown and still oozing with perfection

    858
    Apr 22, 2016
    I was pondering this some more and noticed a glaring fact that would completely prevent power armor use in the field all together. The inability to triage soldiers wounded in the armor. When you think about it they are nothing more than walking coffins.

    A round pierces the armor and does life threatening damage to the operator of the suit. What next? A Medic can't get them out of the armor, and depending on the wound they may not even want to move the operator due to the fact the shock could kill them.

    In a world with ammo that is designed to pierce armor then detonate into an explosion, a system like this is easily defeated. To be honest unless the armor itself could prevent situations such as this there is no feasible point to use such a support system.

    Back in WWII this would have been great, but now even small arms fire could defeat it.
     
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  14. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    That's just my opinion, but I feel that our current tank design, speaking from a military point of view, is really the absolute limit of what you can do with current technology anyway. Power armors or anything similar, to be even remotely usefull, would need some very huge brake troughs in engineering and material research. And than you would always see those same braketroughs also apply on tanks as well. So they will always have the edge here.

    Honestly? I would think that we might see combat drones and some kind of robots, programmed to assist soldiers on the field long before power armors. Particularly once the question of energy supply is solved. Think about it, the potential for the technology is already there - as they even see use in combat, and the benefits of it are much higher. No human life is at emidate danger, at least none of your forces. I think that we will see a hell of a lot more automation in the next 50 years. Up to the point, where the only human decisions comes down to pressing a button, and releasing combat drones which seize and hold areas, acting almost like human. Maybe even better. Who knows.
     
  15. eissa

    eissa Altáriel, Lady of Radiant Garland

    Jan 7, 2016
     
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  16. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    And you know what is even more awesome? That shockwave, like from an impact, travels at the speed of sound!
     
  17. gustarballs1983

    gustarballs1983 Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    856
    Oct 28, 2009
    well .50 cal can penetrate 15-21 mm of steel maybe so but what about tungsten armor planting on the power armor it's far more dense than steel and still in reasonable quantities around to be taken under account besides i'd doubt even the army sabot loaded tungsten .50cal bullets would do the trick aginst 20mm of tungsten planting (it's more or less an equivalent to depleted uranium as of density for military purposes only it ain't "that" radioactive as for human lifespan tungsten is considered stable-loosing only around 2 particles per year)

    as for what ia soldier could wield when in power armor i'm thinking maybe microgun(a 5.56 chambered multibarrel rotary gun), minigun(7.62NATO chambered multibarrel rotary gun) or GAU-19(.50 cal chambered multibarrel rotary gun)
    regular human can't wield them they whey between 19kg (microgun) and 48/60 kg (depending on the version GAU-19)

    DARPA specifications for powered exoskeletion suit is to be able to lift around 400lbs current prototype exeskeletion suit xos-2 from raytheon/sarcos is able to lift 200lbs without too much strain on person steering it


    so ist's just a question of a generation or two of theese suits to be able to wield small caliber rotary multibarreld guns with heavy tungsten planting, or maybe there's going to be invented some kind of lightweight polymer/synthetic ceramic planting that surpases current armoring thechnology.. who knows what future brings

    as to anybody thinking about power armor beeing susceptible to artillery fire.. my guess is only a direct hit would cause it to go down shrapnel here or there wouldn't even scratch tungsten planting and do you realise how hard it is to directly hit something so small as a human from a single lob like canon, especially if target is moving (it's not true the walk through a forest would be faster if the trees would be moving)
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  18. Crni Vuk

    Crni Vuk M4A3 Oldfag oTO Orderite

    Nov 25, 2008
    Modern armor, as you see it with tanks already contain said materials in different layouts, known as composite armor, containing different layers such as plastic, ceramics, metall or even air. And yet, even those modern tanks can be penetrated by modern weapons, like you see on the Abrahams, Challanger 2 and Leopard 2, particularly with the upgraded gun. While small arms weapons and bullets do not work exactly like large caliber guns, the princples for armor apply as well on such small scales.
    A very dense material, will be usually rather heavy and also expensive. This would be also a problem for power armor. Just as how it is now for usual combat troops.

    If you want to see where the limitations of power armor are, my best bet would be to look at development of armor and weapons on tanks. I am not an expert of course. But I doubt that power armors will be to different here, when you consider that tanks had now more than 100 years of development behind them. And a power armor, by my definition, would be a mobile gun platform. Not unlike a tank. And here you have always to keep the 3 top rules in mind, protection, mobility and firepower. To balance those 3 characteristics, is even today, a very difficult task. Not to mention that they still have to figure out the question of an efficient power supply for the power armor/exoskeleton.

    Maybe, in 30 years they might be so far to have the technology for a power armor, similar to what you see in Fallout, but the military of the future might rather use the technology in drones and robots instead of powered troops, simply because they offer you more advantages. Like you say, we have to wait and see. But I think power armors won't be really a solution for the front line, as I think they would be to easy to defeat by small arms weapons, which are already in use now. If you have a power armor that costs you like 50 million dollar, with all the protection, electronics and machines inside it, but someone with a 400$ dollar anti-tank guided rocket can defeat it ... then you have to question how effective it is. Particuilarly if it can't offer you any advantage or do something that a tank or armored vehicle can't already do today.
    And we have not even yet talked about the really advanced weapon systems, like the Javelin, where a group of 2-3 men, can destroy a whole tank platoon in mere minutes. The missile can be so effecive, that it almost negates armor completely, as the rocket can be programmed to hit the top of the turret. There are protective measures, trough laser and radar technology, but, there are also counter measures for those. Like I said, power armors, would have to face and deal with the exact same weapons as tanks do. And there are bigger weapons than a 50 cal that you could use as infantry men ...





    How big would a power armor have to be to protect you against all of those odds?

    And if really everything fails, you could still simply hurl a big chunk of explosives at the Powerarmor, and the forces of the detonation alone would kill the people inside, while maybe even leaving the armor unharmed ...

    No doubts, hence why I see power armors as most effective in second line troops, engineering and construction units. The ability to build defences in just a few minutes rather than hours or days, is a huge advantage. But considering the harsh reality of the frontline? Even tanks can't always deal with that. How much is that equipment or 50 cal GAU worth if the electronics of the armor don't work? If it runs out of fuel? What will you do, if you have to retreat? Leave the armor behind? Technology alone is no warranty for success in this case.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  19. eissa

    eissa Altáriel, Lady of Radiant Garland

    Jan 7, 2016
    and then, the once infamous butcher of soviet tank, have its bullet richocet by slopedness of imac elegant style :P pfft....
     
  20. gustarballs1983

    gustarballs1983 Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    856
    Oct 28, 2009
    Well the best bet military puts in those kind of suits right now as you've probably seen on the video is unarmored legs and backpack for encumberance ease for the soldiers as well as logistics support moving of heavy munitions like tank and aiircraft projectiles and food ratios transport..

    as for the power supply the current idea behind it is to mount a small gasoline generator with 24h fuel capacity.. alternatively if somebody makes a breakthrough in fueling technology (a one kind of finacially profitable enaugh for the oil suckers to switch to from fossil fuels) then it might be different..
    or maybe somebody will finally decide to test thar new trithium-phosphor glow paint to make photovoltaic cells out of durable enaugh materials like silicon-carbide.. nobody had balls to test this as specific precautions and govermental permissions would be required to perform such tests
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2016