Subject: Not Yet Powered Armor Pt.2
Date: 6 Aug 91 02:31:42 GMT
Sender: email@example.com (william.a.thacker)
Organization: AT&T Bell Laboratories
From: ac579@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (G.C.J. Timm)
Author's note: Due to current U.S. Government requirements
EVERYTHING THAT FOLLOWS IS A WORK OF FICTION.
Copyright 1991. Geoffrey C.J. Timm
The human is definitely a weak point in the system. It's input is wide spectrum, but it's comprehension is poor. It receives audio, visual, olfactory, and tactile inputs and it's main output system is voice or signal substitutes for voice such as hand gestures and finger gestures. To work best with a human, you must keep things SIMPLE! BUT, only the input and output are important. The system can be as complex as necessary, as long as the Human/Machine interface is apparently simple to the human.
ULTIMATE PRINCIPLE OF WEAPONS DESIGN. RELIABILITY IS THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION. A weapons system must work EVERY TIME you pull the trigger. This principle has kept the M1911 Colt .45 Pistol in the US Army for 80 years.
The system helmet surrounds the main input systems, eyes and ears. Controls must be simple AND SILENT voice may work OK in an armor vehicle or a fighter plane, but the grunt on the ground wants NO NOISE emitted unless absolutely VITAL to the mission or keeping him alive, because sound kills.
Choices: There are two main locations for sensor systems, one, the helmet, two the weapon. Or a combination of both.
The current combination favored by Army R&D is a weapon mounted sight, fiber optically tied to the helmet display. I think they were overly influenced by the pictures from the Tet Offensive in SVN, where a soldier raised his M-16 over his head and sprayed full auto over a wall. The advantages are: Simplicity, ease of operation and flexibility of weapon positioning. The drawbacks are: limited stability on point targets at ranges beyond 100 meters, that is the system discourages good solid weapon firing position and encourages short range point and squirt.
First, determine what you want the soldier to do, then give him the necessities to accomplish the mission.
Second, it must be RELIABLE!
Third, follow Heinlein's dictum, "A suit you just wear."
Fourth, keep it simple for the operator.
Levels of performance/access to data.
Every soldier does not need the same equipment or information. There is a difference in need between the rifleman in a rifle squad, his squad leader, his platoon leader, and a Ranger or SEAL on a penetration mission.
Day/night vision. Current speculation leans toward thermal imaging technology, as this allows you to see through incidental smoke, battlefield smoke generators now counter IR emissions.
Communications. This must be a flexible system. Capable of sending/receiving audio and visual. Capable of being linked by fiber optics as well as radio. Optionally direct line laser links. There should be a squad BS link for morale purposes included (fiber link only) to assist in status monitoring while in fixed positions, this is also a sneaky trick to get tired troops to rig their links. The APC (Armored Personnel Carrier could provide a central switching point while in position, but given the current and rising level of smart weapons an APC could be a battlefield dinosaur, soon to be replaced with smaller wheeled APC's depending on speed and small size and signature to be less vulnerable.
Information Displays/compass/maps. This must be another flexible system. First it must be secure. The Global Positioning System is soon to be accurate to 5 meters, vertical and horizontal. This allows an exact location of all friendly forces. In the wrong hands this could be fatal! The individual rifleman needs, most of the time, only a local knowledge, emergency rally point, safe zone (a questionable idea at best), and especially the area immediately to his front and his zone of responsibility, depending on his weapon/mission. This information should be displayed in his vision ONLY as needed. (KISS!) In briefings he should get a larger picture, but this should not be stored by his computer for field security reasons. Depending on mission and level of command more information should be dispensed as necessary, need to know basis only! The highest level of enhancement will probably be for Forward Support Controllers, whose displays will include a grid overlay, preplanned target zones and ESPECIALLY locations of friendly forces. There are a lot of mourning British Families who wish this technology had been available in the Gulf war. The British Army took more casualties from friendly fire than enemy fire!
Hearing protection/enhancement. This is a tricky area for priorities. Which is more important, local sound enhancement or the command link? The sound enhancement will have to be user controlled, with overrides for those times when the enemy clobbers the radio link with noise generation or the weapons fire next to the soldier. The advantages of a binaural system, with hearing protection outweigh the disadvantages. (Currently, police SWAT "Special Weapons And Tactics" use amplified headsets on raids, some experimental models also have a radio linkage. One of the best is called "Wolf Ears" and makes a human the equal of a wild animal in sonic sensor capability.
Defense Sensor. This is a combination CBR sensor, capable of detecting and analyzing chemical agent attacks and the his should include radar and laser painting of the soldiers position. It should also send the alarm over the commo net, just in case the individual wearing it was a little too slow....
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