29 August 2013

FWS Topics: Weapon of Choice

When it comes to character development in any work, either on the page or the screen, there are many ways to set characters apart from the background or even each other for the audience. In the realm of military science fiction, action movies, and shooter video games, the weapon that the characters or player chooses, is an important element in the identity of this character/player. In this blogpost, FWS will explore genesis of why certain weapons are chosen to be featured in a media

The Trendy Gun-of-the-Moment
It seems every-fucking-thing has a trend. Clothing, shoes (remember Reebok Pumps?), hairstyles, toothpaste (no shit), soda, movies. Even yogurt, YOGURT for christsakes, has trends. This also includes firearms, and at the moment, the M4/M16/AR15 are the trendy gun. Everyone I know has an AR15 that they are modding out, and every video game/TV show/movie has an M4 carbine. This was not so when I was a kid. Back then, the M16/AR15 appeared dead, and it looked like the US Military was going to replace it at any moment. In those days, the AK47/74, MP5, Desert Eagle, and the Beretta 92F were the trendy guns. In these situations, the weapon of choice is not about the realities of the tactical situation, but because it is trendy, and the creator cannot or will not think outside of the box.
Take Predator for example. There was little doubt that the MP5 was  one hot gun back then. Every counter-terrorism unit, SWAT team, and close protection detail was adopting this little 9mm SMG that could. In the film, the elite Special Forces rescue team is a mixed bag of weaponry, however the most common is the H&K MP5. There is little tactical use for the MP5 in a jungle warfare setting, and it is not like sheath was the key element in the unit's assault plan (just watch the movie). My only thought for the inclusion of the MP5 was because it was trendy. It became even worse of a stereotype after the epic masterpiece Die Hard where no less than two trendy weapons were showcased: MP5 and the Beretta 92F.
 After John McClane shot up international terrorists with the Beretta, it seemed you couldn't see a movie or go to a gun show with seeing this handgun every damn place. One reason that Die Hard featured the Beretta was because of its recent adoption by the US military as their official handgun. This trendy gun element continues today with the Colt M4 carbine. Since the operations in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq, the popularity of the M4 along with the rail attachment items, have soared. Fueling this popularity, has been the availability of hi-res photos on the internet, along with demand driving the paintball/Airsoft market to crack out copies of the M4. Much like the H&K MP5, the Colt M4's popularity has filtered down to this carbine (and commando carbine) being widely adopted by SWAT units, international military organizations (the British SAS), private security firms, and seemingly every recreational shooter I know. Despite the AR15 platform being nearly fifty years old, she has never been more popular.

The Shit Has Just Hit the Fan
We've all been there in video game or watching a movie. There comes that part, when the character gets that epic rapid-fire rocket launcher, or the rotary cannon of death, or just your standard issue big fucking gun. I've seen in any of the DOOM games, HALO, or the best example: Predator with Old Painless. You knew some badass shit was about to go down when Blain whipped out that bad mutha futha cannon! That is one way that a weapon of choice is selected, the situation has altered for the worst, and the character(s) need more firepower that is not available from close support elements. Mercifully, in most video game developers allow you access to mega-damage weapons like the BFG-9000 in order to dispatch hell-spawn like a boss.

This Guy is a Badass
Weapon of choice can clearly communicate to an audience that a certain character has abilities behind the rest. Back in the 1980's, sound suppressed submachine guns were the symbols of counter-terrorism units and Special Force ninjas. Inclusion of these types of weapons in films like Delta Force, Escape From New York, and 1974's McQ where to communicate to the audience that this guy is one bad mother fucker. Even a different variant of the standard weapon can make for separation of these badass characters from a group. The best example is the use of the Colt Model 653P carbines in Platoon for the characters of Barnes and Elias. When I saw this as a kid, I know instantly that these guys were the badass warfighters of the unit. When I take to the paintball field, while I'm no badass, my choice of tiger-stripe BDUs, black kit, Tiberius pistol and Tippmann Alpha Black Tactical somehow tells everyone in the assembly area that I'm so sort of retired Team Six Jedi Knight, and everyone joins my team.
It does not even need to be a carbine or SMG, pistols work just has well to inform the audience of the uber-skill level of the character. Consider the characters of Jack Bauer, Dirty Harry, the Agents from the Matrix films, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Soviet police character from Red Heat. All carried pistols, and brought them to gunfights where their enemy is outfitted with all manner of military-grade weaponry (especially with Jack Bauer). Because of the Shaft-like-badassness of these characters, they no problem with win the day with just their pistols...even more so, if the pistol is a revolver...just watch any Clint Eastwood movie.  This even applies not just to guns, but also melee weaponry. Consider Chingachgook from 1992's Last of the Mohicans with his bright blue gunstock war-club (yes, I own one), Voodoo's tomahawk from Medal of Honor, and of course, Rambo.  

"Which is the Way He Wants It. Well, He Gets It..."
Preference of weapons is often of the largest factors in selecting a weapon of choice in the real-world and fictional works. In the realm of the most elite special forces, DELTA operators have a long history of preferring the Colt 1911s, while the Navy SEALs use the Sig Sauer P226, and the SAS used the Browning Hi-Power for many years. Professional shooters are well known to choice weapons based on their devoted fondness for a certain firearm company or certain pistol, rifle, or even ammunition. This fondness for one certain type of weapon is explored in fictional character as well. This can be because the creator has their own attachment to the weapon, or that it symbolizes something about the character's personality. In the Manga Gunsmith Cats, the main character, Rally Vincent is very selective of her weapon of choice, and the manga loving explains why Rally feels that the CZ-75 is the best semi-automatic in the world.  In the Ghost in the Shell manga, Major Kusanagi belittles Togusa for carrying his weapon of choice, while singing the praised of the 5.45mm Seburo M5.
When I was a kid, I watched a ton of violent action movies (that is what is wrong with me), and Steven Seagal's were some of my favorites, propelling me to take Aikido in high school. In the majority of his action films, Mr. Seagal had a trend of using Colt 1911s and deep in the credits, gunsmith Terry Tussey was cited as Mr. Seagal's personal outfitter. This speaks to another category of Weapon of Choice, because the actor or creator wants it. This was true of the H&K USP45 seen in the hands of Tom Cruise in Collateral. Michael Mann specifically wrote in the script for Vincent to use an "HK .45". Some actors use this specific weapon because they used in another line of work, they like it, or that it says something about them.

Based in Reality
Some creators put a specific gun in the hands of their characters or situation because it is based in reality.  If a creator is committed to getting it correct, than the weapons of choice is more of an easier decision than picking weapons of choice based on style or what is hot at the moment.Having the Navy SEALs use the sound suppressed H&K MP5SDs on a hostage rescue is accurate (for the time) in the abortion-of-a-movie Navy Seals. Seeing DELTA operators use Colt Commando carbines with scopes in Blackhawk Down is accurate to the historical event of October 3rd, 1993. In the more current Zero Dark Thirty, we see DEVGRU operators wielding H&K 416s with sound suppressors, also based in reality and on-scene accounts. This is also true of the upcoming film based on the book Sole Survivor, where the filmmakers used photos and consultants to put the correct Colt M4, along with accompanying weaver rail attachments in the hands of the actor playing Navy SEALs.

Say Something Without Saying a Word
Defining the character is key in any work. There are many tools at the disposal of the creator: wardrobe, accent, haircut, vehicle, and weapon of choice. You can instantly communicate with an  audience  about the character just based on the weapon that you chose for them. Take Zoe from Firefly for example. She uses the cut-down "Mare's Leg" Colt Model 1892 Lever-Action carbine. Like FWS has stated before, cut-down compact weapons are often a sign of badassness, Joss and his team were aware of this. They were also aware that the Mare's Leg pistol-carbine was also closely associated with one of the most cool actors in the history of cinema: Steve McQueen. In his Western TV show, Wanted: Dead or Alive, McQueen's character used the Mare's Leg and this weapon impacted a generation of viewers. If you know about the Mare's Leg, than Zoe's character becomes alot cooler. Of course, this can also work in reverse, sometimes a weapon of choice is used to communicate that this character is an asshat, like Mickey Rourke's character in the 1991 forgotten classic Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. Towards the end of the film, Harley whips out a .454 Ruger Super Blackhawk, and Marlboro just shakes his head.

Making it Yours
Military organizations are big on uniformity, weapons included. Much of soldiers in the real world and other medium, will be uniform in weapons and gears. Often in war, soldiers take their base weapon and modify them and this as been so from the rice paddles of Vietnam, to the deserts of Iraq, to the cold mountains of Afghanistan. While the weapon of choice could be assigned to you, like an Colt M4 carbine, there is a chance to make it your own. With the recent weaver rail madness, an regular soldier or marine can modify his or her M4 carbine with all manner of flashlights, sights, scopes, hand-grips, and other attachments. While the base gun is more or less universal, the attachments allow for making a mandatory weapon of choice to be made in your own firearm of choice. We can see customization of a base weapon in the Call of Duty and Medal of Honor games. This was not just with the current crop of weapons, personalization of weapons has been a trend in firearms since the beginning, and doesn't seem in any danger of disappearing.
While many gamers use the awesome M27 and Tac-45 in Black Ops: II, they can attach all manner of equipment, camo patterns, and perks to make that assault rifle something unique..after all, there are many M27s, but this one is mine! One of the better examples of this customization is in the lightsabers of Star Wars universe. While every Jedi Knight and Sith warrior use the single or double blade directed energy melee weapon, the user can fully customize the hilts, color of blade, and how many blades, allowing for the base Jedi/Sith weapon to be truly a symbol of the warrior that wields it, and iconic pieces of the characters. Fans of the movies, have create a cottage industry of custom cosplay lightsaber hilts to modify the standard armament of these sci-fi warriors to match the wearer.

Standing Out in a Ensemble Cast
Movies like Predator, Saving Private Ryan, Firefly, Gunsmith Cats, and Gunslinger Girl allow for the weapon of choice for the character to define some element of the characters' personality, along with setting them apart from the others. If we look at Firefly, everyone used a weapon that allowed them to standout, from Jayne's LeMat, to Zoe's Mare's Leg Model 1892 carbine-pistol, to Mal's highly modified Taurus Model 85 .38 revolver. This were iconic pieces of kit for the character, and were easily identified with the character. The same is true of the Jedi and Sith seen in the Star Wars films, or the attachment kit on the M4s in Tears of the Sun. In Saving Private Ryan, we saw the Rangers in Captain Miller's unit having different WWII-era weaponry, allowing for some characters to be easily identified via this weapon. Some examples were Edward Burns' character, Pvt. Reiben used a rarely seen Browning BAR, or Barry Pepper's Pvt. Jackson's Springfield M1903A4 sniper rifle, or even the 101st Airborne Paratroopers using the M1A1 Paratrooper variant carbines. The ability for this connect to a cool gun to a character was a strong connection for me. I may not have known the actor who played Reiben at first, but I fully knew that it was the guy with the rad BAR!

The Right Tool for the Right Job
Sometimes, the weapon of choice just comes down to the right tool for the right job. There are reasons why the majority of soldiers use an assault rifle or carbine, why shotguns are great for home defense, and why nuclear weapons are effective against xeno-inflections on corporate off-world colonies. Weapons, like dog breeds, are developed to fulfill a certain purpose. Take Elephant guns, anti-tank rifles, bird-shot shells, and personal defense weapons. All of these specialized weapons were designed with an intended purpose beyond the general role of a gun...to kill.
Weapon of choice can come down to what are you going to do and where. For example, during the early days of the conflict in Afghanistan, British SAS where staging night raids on AQ and Taliban cave complexes. Given the conditions of the tactical environment, the SAS turned to their venerable suppressed H&K MP5s. During on of these raids, an AQ/Taliban fighters came out and took a piss inches away from a SAS operator. When he finished, he noticed something, and before he could breath a word, the operator slammed half-a-magazine of suppressed 9mm lead into his chest. The enemy guards on patrol never heard a sound....the right tool for the right job. Here is my favorite quote from the Professional that seems to apply: "The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn"-Leon,

It's a Reference...
 There is little doubt that some weapons of choice are a conscience decision to reference another work, or that work influenced the creator(s). This is common in the Call of Duty game series, which liberally borrow from the 1980'sand 19*90's action movie classics (Terminator 2 and Commando and Rambo). Sometimes, the use of a reference weapon of choice is to pay homage to the original work that is often important to the creator.This was the case with the original Colonial sidearm in the Ronald D. Moore Battelstar Galactica that was patterned after Decker's handgun in Blade RunnerThis was also the case with the Winchester Model 1887 featured in Terminator 2. Cameron used the design of the loop-cocking handle as a reference to the Winchester Model 1892 "Saddle Ring" Carbine seen in 1969's True Grit. Gun References could be attempt by the creators to be sly,seeing if the audience is paying attention and gets the reference. This came up in the ID file for TODD-3465 in the 1998 MSF movie Soldier. In the small print of his ID, you can read that Todd is trained in the use of the ALIENS M41A1 pulse rifle and the Smart gun. Then there is the shitty kind of weapon of choice reference...ripping off the original work because you have little or no imagination.

The recycling of weapons in films and TV is not because the production is going green to save Mother Earth, but because they are trying to save money, and recycle a prop. One of the more famous sci-fi guns, "Vera" from Firefly is actually a Russian made shotgun, the Izhmash Saiga and was originally a prop from the 2002 action-comedy Showtime...yeah, never heard of it either. Vera was alternated from that 2002 box-office bomb, and put into the hands of Jayne Cobb. This was similar to the M590 assault rifle from Space: Above and Beyond. It made the rounds after the show that it was designed for shut down. It would appear in several sci-fi shows, including an episode of the X-Files. This is, at times, not the fault of the work that the recycled prop shows up in. TV shows and movies normally hire specialized prop houses that deal in blank-fire or non-fire weapons, and they bring a number of these weapons to a shoot, and sometimes by blind-luck, a recycled gun shows up.

Sometimes, the Creator(s) are Stupid
I hate to say this, but sometimes creators of a certain work, especially movies are idiots, and have zero practical weapons experience, that their weapons of choice is devised from this vast ignorant of firearms, and/or trying too hard to be cool. For example, in the more recent and more ridiculous  Resident Evil films, the use of
dual-wielding saw-off double barrel 12 gauge shotguns by Alice is just plain fucking stupid, and shows ignorance on the side of the filmmakers of these films.
Another very stupid weapon of cinema is the EM-1 Railgun from the 1996 film Eraser. They attempted to fit a futuristic hand-held rail-rifle that was fitted with an x-ray scope into an action movie to generate some originality in this very generic script. According to the film, the EM-1 fired aluminium sabot at near the speed of light! Simply put, the mere physics of this movie-weapon would prevent its use, and would be a danger to the shooter as well as the target. Worst of all, there is no way that a hand-held Railgun rifle could be fired akimbo, or even have the onboard power source to generate an EM to propel a sabot at near light speeds. The projectile itself would most likely burn up before hitting the intended target. Other times, it is not the weapon itself that is foolish, but the manner in which it used. Take Predators for example, excellent film overall, and a worthy successor to the original 1987 classic, but the main character, Royce uses an AA-12 fully-automatic 12 gauge shotgun has his primary weapon.Why? While the AA-12 is an epic weapon that brings the hate in truck-loads, it is a poor-general use weapon, especially considering the ammunition consumption. Even a great movie like Predators can suffer from stupidity about guns, I guess. Still, it was nice to see the AA-12 in action. 

Shameless Product Placement
Another way that a weapon becomes the choice for a creator is that someone pays them to use it. Production placement in TV shows, movies, books, and movies is nothing new, there is current trend that has gun companies inserting their products into the work. This was seen in the recent (and terrible) Medal of Honor: Warfighter with weapons from LaRue Tactical. In 1998, Tommy Lee Jones tells Robert Downey Jr to get himself a Glock, in the movie US Marshals, and that was paid for by Glock. Smith & Wesson put the slow-selling Model 29 .44 into 1971's Dirty Harry and sales reached the moon.
 Remington, Colt, and EoTech have been rumored to pay for placement into the Call of Duty video games A few articles I read made mention that gun product placement was Hollywood's "dirty little secret". Product placement is a odd game. On one hand, in the real world, people drink Coke, wear John Varvatos, drive Porsche, and use iPhones. Soldiers do use Colt, Sig Sauer, and Magpull...so, is it product placement if it is authentic gear? Of course, there is a way to invent fictional companies to take the place of real-world...like Weyland-Yutani. In some ways, I think firearm product placement ought to come from organic place in the fictional work. Would the character use the weapon if the creators were not being paid?   

Just Because It's Cool...Hey, That's a Reason!
The desire to be cool and appear cool to others is a strong impulse for human behavior, just look at how many people start smoking because it "looked" cool, or bought Members Only jackets. Weapon of choice sometimes comes down to the coolness factor that can be separate from the previously mentioned "trendy gun of the moment" factor. In the 1988 Sam Elliot film Shakedown, Sam's NYPD detective character has a rare LAR Grizzly .45 Mag pistol with a compensator. I seriously doubt that any New York detective carries or ever carried a LAR Grizzy in .45 Mag or any Miami undercover cops carried the rare Bren Ten 10mm Auto pistol. In the case of that classic 1980's series that I watched, the producers wanted a "cool" signature gun for the main characters.
That right there is the primary reason a myriad of Desert Eagles appear in media...because they are cool...until you fire one.  I read once that the reason for the Desert Eagles .50 Action Express being the Agents in the Matrix films was because the directors thought that the Desert Eagles were badass cool. At times, the "cool gun" idea spreads, and becomes a standard that leads to the "trendy gun" or introduces the audience to a new idea in firearms. The original Ghost in the Shell manga introduced me to the PDW and the PDW specialized cartridge all because Shirow thought it was a cool idea. I know that I'm guilty of this, and so are many others...like placing weapons based on the AKS-74U and the Seburo M5 in my own sci-fi works. I also give into the "cool gun" idea Black Ops: II, where I use the KSG shotgun and the Executioner in a class because I think that they are cool badass weapons. I especially love taking down my prey with them. Nothing is better than using the KSG to one-shot some dickweed sniper or those riot-shield assholes. I also love storming a building with my Executioner and pounding 28 gauge shells into my prey. Okay...time to play some Black Ops: II!

16 August 2013

FWS Topics: Powered Armor

"The Sun hit low, and cast a fearsome blazing gleam upon the armor of my enemy, and I witnessed the blood of my friends splattered cross the iron plates. There was not flesh of man exposed in the armor of my foe, who stood alone in the field of fallen warriors. As I drew my sword, and placed my helmet upon my crown, I rushed to decorate my armor with his red essence."

Armor of all types and materials has being worn in combat since nearly the dawn of organized warfare. From the Romans, to the Greeks, to the armies of Alexander of the Great, all the way to the Knights of Europe and the Samurai, all of these warriors donned armor of various designs. That changed when the gun gained dominance over the sword in the 17th/18th centuries, and armored plates could not be forge thick enough to counter the bullet. Today, our soldiers are protected from the trauma of the bullet by ceramic plates and tight woven fibers. While effective, it only protects a small portion of the soldiers' body. Science fiction has imagined that future soldiers will be protected from the horrors of future weapons via full-body armor that also increases the soldier's endurance and strength. This idea, transformed into one of the most iconic elements of battlefield technology in military science fiction, the powered armor suit, allowing one soldier to become many. After the idea of the this futuristic armor was established by E.E. Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein, Japanese Anime/Manga along with American video games/comic books would jump on the concept and expanding it that continues to this day. In my own life, the powered armor seems to have always been there, and became a key element in my first MSF novel Endangered Species. The concept that was laid down in the 1930's, is still going strong with the current release of Elysium that features powered exo-armor.
BTW, I think there is a rather good drinking game buried in the text here. Drink every time you read the words: Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein. or E.E. Doc Smith. 

What is "Powered Armor"?
What separates the powered combat exoskeletons of science fiction from the classic protective suits of the Knights of Europe and the Samurai? Armored power suits preform the same primary function as that ancient armor: protection. However, with the use of electricity to unitize micro-motors, computers, advanced material science forge one armored soldier into many, empowering the basic foot soldier into a machine of battle. Not only is the wearer better protected from incoming fire, but, powered armor uses micro-motors, hydraulics, artificial muscle tissue, and computerized controls to amplify strength, jumping (even flight in some cases),endurance, vision via sensors of the operator along with informational systems, and onboard communications. As to form, the majority of powered armor is similar to bipedal anatomy to allow for logical/intuitive operation for the wearer. While combat is the most logical function of armored power suits, they could be used for space exploration, hospitals, construction, cargo hauling on the USS Sulaco, and rescue services.   

Some Terminology
Since powered armor is extremely popular in science fiction, and every author/creator (included
me) wants to differentiate their idea of powered armor from other works contain these super-suits, they conjure up other terms. In order to more clear, the blogpost will generally refer to either powered armor or armored power suit (APS). Here is a list of other terms used in science fiction:
  • Powered Exoskeleton 
  • Man Amplifier 
  • Space Armor (early term)
  • Amplifier Exoskeleton
  • Exoframe
  • Hardskin
  • Hardsuit
  • Battlesuit
  • Battle Armor
  • Power Suits
  • Armored Power Suit (APS)
  • Powered Armor
  • Combat Exo-Skeleton
  • Nano-Muscle Suit 
  • Hazard Suit
  • Resource Integration Gear
  • Landmate
  • Personal Tank
  • Exoskeleton Armor
  • Hazard Enviormental Suit (HEV) 
  • Power Armor
  • Powered Armor Suit
  • Jacket (from All You Need Is Kill)
  • E-Frame
  • Armored Fighting Suit
  • War-Suit
  • Combat Skin
  • Skin Suit
  • Enhanced Combat suits
  • heavy powered combat armor (from Strings on a Shadow Puppet
  • Accelerator Suit
  • Heavy Metal Warrior
  • Man Amplifier
  • Mini-Mech
The Classifications and Size of Powered Armor
Given the popularity of powered armor these days across all types of media, there are thousands of examples. From my years of research (i.e., being a geek), I have divided up the various forms of Powered Armor into three types: CLASS I/II/III. All of these fit within the umbra that is powered armor. Note, that there is a division between mecha and powered armor. I think of mecha has more akin to the robotic vehicles seen in Battletech, Gundum, and ROBOTECH. These are more like walking tanks that are operated accordingly, with controls similar to a tank or combat aircraft. Powered armor is more personal and intimate, and mostly controlled via the natural appendages of the operator's body. Think of the AMP suit from AVATAR, where the pilot used their legs to move the suit, and their own hands and arms to manipulate the arms and hands of the AMP suit. Size also is a factor in breaking up the three classes of powered armor, separating them from mecha. Most armored power suits are close to size to an average human, while mecha is of the giant robot category. Some fictional military organizations make use of all types of powered armor along with mecha. This can been seen in the Imperium of Man from WH40K. They field normal infantry (the Imperial Guard), CLASS-1 APS (the Space Marines), CLASS-2 APS (Tactical Dreadnought Terminator Armor), CLASS-3 (Dreadnoughts), and mecha (Titans).  So, here is the full descriptions and examples of the three classifications of powered armor.    

The CLASS-1 powered armor is the wearable version and more closely related in a spiritual sense to the historical armor of the Knights of Europe and the Samurai. Unlike the other two classes of APS, CLASS-1 is more intimate and the normal biological inputs from the wearer's extremities dictate the actions of the armor. This type of powered armor allows for amplification of the operator's strength, survivability, endurance over conventional infantry. These can be completely enclosed, like Iron Man or more of a framework, like in Elysium. Given that this classification of battlesuit is based on the normal range of the operators, the size of the suit can be variable as well. With genetically modified super-soldiers of Warhammer 40K and Battletech, the size of suit increased with then increased size of the operator, making them closer to CLASS-2 in size rather than the typical CLASS-1. When comparing this type of more intimate future combat armor to an automobile, the little two-seater "roadster" type vehicles like the epic Mazda Miata, the Mini Cooper S, the old MG roadsters, and the holy Porsche 550 racer from the 1950's come to mind.

  • The Chozo Power Suit from the Metroid universe
  • The Element APS from Battletech
  • The Mjolnir armor from HALO
  • Iron Man...'nuff said
  • The Accelerator Suits from G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA
  • The Powered Armor from the Starship Trooper universe
  • The powered armor from Armor
  • Forever War fighting suits
  • The Terran Marines from Starcraft
  • The Exo-Suits from Elysium
  • The Marine armor from Warhammer 40K
  • The hardsuits from Bubble Crisis 2032
  • The marine fighting combat space suits of the Shrapnel comics 
  • Power Armor from the Fallout series
  • Bio-Booster Armor  from Bio Booster Armor Guyver
  • Skin-Suits from Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamiliton
  • The XENON Project from Xenon: the Heavy Metal Warrior
  • Nano-Suit from Crysis video game series
  • The NAVSPECWAR S.W.O.R.D. armored suits from the anime OVA Vexille 
  • The fighting suit or "Jackets"from the book and film All You Need is Kill
Sandwiched between the body-hugging CLASS-1 and the mecha-sized CLASS-3, is the "little big man" of the powered armor world, the CLASS-2. This bridges the world of the mecha and the world of the traditional Iron Man type battlesuit, and as benefits of both. Typically, the CLASS-2 has more of a cockpit design, but still has the operator's extremity inputs to dictate to the suit's actions. With the increase of the suit, there is greater amplification, larger power supply, and complexity. Several CLASS-2 suits have been seen in big budget live-action films, like AVATAR, two of the Matrix films, ALIENS, and Distinct 9. When comparing the CLASS-2 armor to an automobile type than compact four-door sedans vehicles like the BMW 3-series, Toyota Corolla, the Volkswagen Jetta or even the compact SUVs.

  • The AMP suit from Avatar
  • The APU from Martix Reloaded and Revolutions
  • The Tactical Dreadnought Armor from Warhammer 40K
  • The Marader armor from Starship Troopers 3
  • The Fujiacomo Ghost in the Shell Manga
  • The Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • The Prawn Powered Armor from Distict 9
  • The Power-Loader from ALIENS
  • The Iron Monger from Iron Man (2008)

One of the most rare types of powered armor seen science fiction is the CLASS-3. While it is similar to the biped mecha that litter Anime and Manga, the CLASS-3 differs in the manner of control, not size. Most giant robot combat vehicles, like in Gundum are just that, vehicles. These are piloted by use of complex controls (think Steel Battalion for the Xbox), and there is a disconnect between man and machine. The CLASS-3 powered armor is about the same scale as those walking tanks, but is controlled via the actions and impulses of the pilot muscles and brain. This allow for the CLASS-3 powered armor to be faster and more responsive than the classic mecha. One of the best examples is the Biorodis from the ROBOTECH: the Masters. If I was to compare the CLASS-3 APS to an automobile that I would chose the current trend of the four-door "coupes". These sleek cars that are both roomy, but responsive and feel more like a sports car than a saloon car. Some examples are like the sexy-as-fuck Porsche Panamera Turbo, the Fisker Karma, the Maserati Quattroporte GTS, the new BMW M6 Gran Coupe, and the Aston Martin Rapide S.

  • The Jagers from Pacific Rim
  • The Masters' Bioroids from ROBOTECH
  • The Invid Warriors from ROBOTECH
  • The Mecha from Brain Powered
  • The EVA Mecha from Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • The Tracer mecha from Voices from a Distant Star
  • The Gunbuster mech from Gunbuster
  • The Imperial Dreadnought from Warhammer 40k

Negatives of Powered Armor
  • Additional Complexity
  • Greater In-field Repair/Maintenance
  • Increased Training
  • Terrain hazards
  • Higher Cost
  • Increased Fuel/Energy Needs
  • Greater infrastructure Needs
  • Target for the Enemy
  • "God-Mode" behavior

Positives of Powered Armor
  • Increased Firepower capability
  • Increased survivability for the Soldier
  • Increased endurance
  • Increased strenght
  • All weather capability
  • Less soldiers needed for operations
  • Less heavy support needed
  • Elimination of bulky machines
  • NBC/Hostile Environmental Protection
  • Sensors
  • Can go where tanks cannot
  • Psychological effect
  • Defensive systems

The History of Powered Armor in Science Fiction
Tales told around camp fires about magical armor that grants the wearer greater fighting abilities since ancient times. Take the armor of Achilles fashioned by the God of Blacksmithing, Hephaestus for example along the armor of Beowulf are such examples. This desire seems intrinsic to human behavior as it continues to this very day with works like Iron Man and HALO. These mythical armor pieces allowed the warrior to amplify their strength and bravery on the battlefield, forging legends, and it is possible via technology that this desire could come to fruition.
This idea of power-driven armored suits was a nature fit for science fiction, and was first explored in the 1930's by science fiction visionary and pioneer E.E. Doc Smith. It is likely that 1937's Galactic Patrol is the first use of space powered armor. Throughout his founding space opera stories of the brave Lensman, these intergalactic warriors that use physic powers also walked around in some type of powered armor. In the text of the novels, the powered armor is often called "light space armor" composed of "dureum". This allowed Kimball Kinnison in 1947's Children of the Lens, to survive massive amounts of incoming enemy fire, and this space armor could not be worn by a normal man.
While the space armor of the Lensman series was not strictly "powered armor" by more modern examples, but given the material it was composed of, it is a given along with abilities mentioned. With the widespread popularity of the E.E. Doc Smith novels, futuristic full-body combat armor entered the imaginations of the readers. Another early tale of powered armor comes for the more pulp-side of sci-fi: The Spider and Satan's Murder Machines published in December 1939. This featured an evil gang that dons "robotic armor", and the hero of these pulp novels was "the Spider", a playboy millionaire that reminds me of Lamont Cranston from The Shadow and Batman's Bruce Wayne, uses his own robot suit to fight the evildoers. Just before FWS published this blogpost, long-time reader Christopher Phoenix, mentioned that James Blish Cities in Flight novels from the 1950's featured the use of police power-driven space armor. From my research, the space armor appeared in these novels as early as 1957!
While the first example of powered armor could be debated, the appearance that defined and codified the theory of powered suits was Robert Heinlein's 1959 military science fiction story Starship Troopers. This novel has since become the touchstone for military science fiction and powered armor. With this type of popularity, including winning a best novel Hugo award in 1960, Starship Troopers influenced generations of creators to imagine their own version of the Mobile Infantry power suits. Some believe that the M.I. armor influenced the development of the Japanese Anime/Manga staple of Mecha. This appearance of fictional powered armor that could seal a soldier away from alien environments was also being explored by Constantin Paul Lent in his 1956 design for a hardshell spacesuit that was patented, but never led to anything.
Shortly after the Mobile Infantry bughunts came two iconic comic book characters that were born very much moral, but used their minds and technology to forge their place in the world of superheroes: Doctor Doom and Iron Man. It may come as a surprise that the first Marvel Comics character to don powered armor was not Tony Stark in 1963, but Victor Von Doom in Fantastic Four #5 in July of 1962. Iron Man's first appearance was in Tales of Suspense #39 in March of 1963. Doctor Doom was developed by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a "super villain" who took his image from the common Western ideals about the personifications of the Grim Reaper and Death, along with the inhuman, unmerciful, nature of steel body armor. Just a year later, Stan Lee, Larry Liber, and others at Marvel would create another character wrapped in armor...this time it was a moral man hero (of sorts) that used his superior intelligence to foil his Vietnamese captors by created the first Iron Man suit. As Stan Lee tells it, in the early 1960's, the young readers of comics hated war, and Stan Lee gave them a genius weapons marker in Tony Stark patterned some what on Howard Hughes. This two characters, one good, one evil, showing us the uses and origins of powered armor, along with the effect of using this armor. Despite their development in the 1960's, both Iron Man and Doctor Doom are still active in the world of comics, and have expanded into the world of film. These two characters are in some ways the yin and yang of powered armor.With Iron Man and Doctor Doom popularity coupled with an society-wide interested in science did was create conditions for the rise of creators using powered armor in their works.
 In 1967, a powered exoskeleton based on the Cornell Man Amplifier and the GE Hardiman was seen in the spy comedy film The Ambushers. While the movie was a throwaway attempting to cash in on the James Bond crazy, it did feature powered exoskeletons that were designed for lifting work, not combat. This realistic and non-combat role for powered exoskeletons was also seen in the 1968 yellow exoskeleton toy from the Major Matt Mason toyline by Mattel. The "supernaut power-limbs" toy was packaged with the concept of it being used by the astronauts to explore outer space while helping with their work with the "space stilts". Another similar toy for the Major Matt Mason toyline was released in 1969, called the "space power suit pak". This featured a remote control non-electric squeezable system to allow the child to use the "power hammer" and "power claw". Once again this was aimed at space exploration and not space-based warfare.
Between 1971-1973, the Marvel comics would featured several power armor wearing characters. In 1971, we witness the emergence of the "Mandroid" designed by Stark Industries for use by S.H.I.E.L.D and the   "Soviet Super Troopers" outfitted in weaponized mechanical suits that would combat the Hulk.This would established a trend of the Incredible Hulk facing off with powered armor foes. Military science fiction would see another founding classic be published in 1974 with Joe Haldman's The Forever War. When human first encounters hostile aliens, the United Nations begins training soldiers with IQ's over 150 for the Expeditionary Force that will engage the Tauran forces far from Terra via use of Collapsars. Soldiers like Potter and Mandella are issued "fighting suits" and chemical lasers to combat their evil alien foe. These fighting suits were a hybrid of the combat spacesuit and the powered armor. Again, like Starship Troopers, the Forever War would become a highly successful sci-fi novels, winning the major awards for science fiction literature and further solidify the concept of powered armor within future warfare tales.
Occurring at around the same time as the publishing of The Forever War, was the emergence of military sci-fi wargames in the mid-1970's. Games like Starguard! Interstellar Infantry-2550 AD, SPI's StarSoldier: Tactical Warfare in the 25th Century, and Avalon Hill's Starship Troopers all featured soldiers in powered armor waging war on exoplanets. This was an important step in introducing fresh legions to the concept of powered armor in use in military sci-fi. While the Americans were exploring the concept of powered armor via comics, books, and wargames, the Japanese were noticably quiet. That would change in 1979 with the coming of Mobile Suit Gundam and the introduction of futuristic military mecha to the world of manga and anime.
This concept would catch fire like a tossed cigarette in a dry national park. Mecha of all shapes and sizes would populate anime and manga, and be global exported to hungry little viewers like myself in the dawn of the 1980's. While Mecha is a board definition for advance robotic machines, powered armor often gets lumped into the mix, and with the success of Mobile Suit Gundam, came powered armor into manga and anime. With works like Genesis Climber MOSPEADA with their cyclones, the Zentradi power suits from Super Dimension Fortress Macross, and various powered armor war-machine in Ma.K ZBV3000 and Armored Trooper VOTOMS. This storm of Anime and Magna works featuring powered armor would also be supported by a strong wargame culture in North America with games like OGR E/GEV, Traveller, Armored Assault, Dragonstar Rising that were all supported with the explosion of comic/hobby stores.
I can still remember going into my favorite comic stores in Tulsa, and witnessing walls of futuristic war-machine models and boxed games that I couldn't afford. Behind closed doors in these comic/hobby stores where early tabletop war simulations were being waged. In December 1984, another classic of military science fiction was released and built on the trend of powered armored soldier combating sentient insect aliens on other planets. Written by fellow Texan John Steakley, who I actually met at a sci-fi convention in 2004, Aromor was a direct response to Heinlein's 1959 classic. Steakley stated that Armor was born out of lack of combat in the novel, and more focused on the struggle of soldiers in inhuman combat. This would be another founding literary classic of military science fiction. Sadly, a sequel was in the works when Mr. Steakley passed away recently.
1986-1987 would prove to be a pivotal years in powered armor history. 1986 would see James Cameron's magnum opus ALIENS displaying a rare live-action example of powered armor in the powerloader created one of the best ambassadors for inclusion of powered exoskeletons into future science fiction works. In 1987, the harbinger of powered armor being a staple of video games arrive with Samus Aran in 1987's Metroid. The genre of wargaming would be forever altered by the creation of Games Workshops Warhammer 40,000 also in 1987. This one work would spawn generations of fans and admirers, who would use Warhammer 40K has inspirational for their own powered armor. While Starship Troopers may have spread the gospel of powered armor in military sci-fi, Warhammer 40k invaded the world of science fiction and converted millions to the cause at the barrel of a boltgun. Powered armor in science fiction would be radically different if Games Workshops had never developed 40K. It was also during 1987, that one of my favorite anime series, Bubblegum Crisis was released, and proudly displayed female combatants in their powered hardsuits.
 It was also during these banner years, that First Comics would publish
Dynamo Joe, an American far-future war story featuring all sizes of mecha and powered armor influenced by Anime and Manga. This was the series that introduced me to the term "armored power suit" in issue number seven. From 1988 to 1990, powered armored in science fiction would see a boost with the Japanese OVA based on Starship Troopers released in 1988 along with models of their interruption of the power suit. This was coupled with Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01 and  the OVA of Masamune Shirow's Appleseed manga series that had been exploring the urban warfare aspect of powered armor since 1986.
Another ambassador product of powered armor was 40k universe. This was just another delivery method for Games Workshop to pedal their war-crack to young minds, hooking them for life to the nipple of GWS, and it was a might cool game that I saw many times around the comic shop, and played a few times.
the simplified boardgame from 1989 that pitted Space Marine Terminators against monstrous Genestealers set in the
By the dawn of the 1990's, the power of home video game consoles and PCs, allowing for powered armor to be featured in mainstream games. The iconic powerhouse of mecha combat games, Battletech, forged their own battlesuit, the Elementals with the 1990 Technical Readout: 3050. This allowed for powered armor to be used in one of the largest wargaming products, and was later filtered down into future Battletech products. The early 1990's would see video games carry the mantel of Metroid and run with: Space Hulk: Vengeance of the Blood Angels,X-COM, Crusader: No Remorse, Dune: II, many, many others. Powered armor of the later 1990's could be best exemplified by Tribes, Starcraft, Half-Life, and Fallout. Powered armor was not limited to video games, but also was seen in western animation. The American animated TV series of Battletech, Exo-Squad, and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers would all featured powered armor on-screen and in spin-off toys.
The 1990's would demonstrate the move away from physical wargames that used the imagination and miniatures for the interconnected video games that allowed the player to rise legions of powered armor warriors to punish their enemies with, and this trend continued in the millennium with the explosion in computer generated special effects and personal electronics. Microsoft, who nearly dominated the personal computer market, decided to claw out a marketplace for their new home gaming system, the Xbox, in 2001. What sold most of us to buy the expensive big black box was one game, and one game only: HALO: Combat Evolved. For over a decade, Master Chief, SPARTAN-117 would found a gaming empire that expanded into books, TV shows, and toys, all worth $3 billion dollars. The Chief's powered armor would an icon of all powered armor, and stands as one of the key designs. Literary examples of powered armor would be seen in 2000's Revelation Space, the scores of HALO and Warhammer 40k books, along with some of Tanya Huff's books. In 2007, one of the prime examples of nanotechnology based powered suits would released in Crysis. 
Computer technology would not only allow for the Master Chief to storm ancient ring shaped worlds, but also for mainstream science fiction films to (finally) include powered armor that   did not look like something out of Ray Harryhausen fever dream. 2003 would see the APU combat exo-skeletons in the third Matrix film, one of the finest examples of powered armor in live-action cinema at that time. However, the level was raised with the live-action Iron Man movie in 2008 and the sequels that followed, along with the AMP suits from James Cameron's AVATAR in 2009. This over-sized combat armor that walked the line between mech-suit and powered armor, but appeared all business when the action started. 2009 was also the year that Neil Blomkamp give use the Prawn powered armor in the jarring District 9 and the accelerator armor suits from the first live-action G.I. Joe movie. With Pacific Rim and Elysium both released in 2013 and Edge of Tomorrow in 2014, the trend of powered armor equipped warriors appears to be not slowing down. Books featuring powered armor are alos not slowing down, in 2013, Baen Books would publish an entire anthology of stories devoted to powered armor called Armored. On the horizon for live-action cinema powered armor is the reboot of Starship Troopers, more Iron Man films, a possible HALO movie, and the long-delayed the Forever War. Gaming will continue using powered armor with the upcoming HALO 5 and Destiny. As of the writing of this blogpost in August of 2013, there seems to be no slowing down of the trend of including powered armor in all medium of science fiction.

Real-World Powered Armor
Before science fiction showed us vision of super-troopers dosing out atomic grenades at bug-aliens on other planets, the idea of machines making man's work easier via enhancing the worker's body have been around since 1890 and continue onward through today. The majority of real-world powered exoskeleton were not designed specifically for combat applications, but more for having the strength of a Wookie. Mostly, powered exoskeleton are being explored to replace forklifts via slave and master system, and to take the load off soldiers, not dual-wield light machine guns and jumping over tall buildings. Here is a list of some of the examples of real-world powered armor suits.

Hardiman (1966)
General Electric in the mid-1960's, with funding for the US military, designed a suit of powered exoskeleton that could lift 1500lbs and be used primarily onboard aircraft carriers to load ordnance on fighters.However,  the Hardiman suit weighted in at 1500lbs with 28 joints, and there were issues with the power supply, but it did work as promised. What prevented the Hardiman to become standard naval equipment was the dangerous habit of the joints to become unstable and behave with a mind of their own to the degree that it threatened the wearer. Much of the photos with an operator inside where done with the power off. GE explored the possibility of a system that just unitized the arms of the Hardiman but that ended in 1971.

AX-5 Hard-Shell Spacesuit (1988)
 In the mid-1980's, the AMES research center beginning work on space suit that would have a metal shell with mobility joints instead of the standard fabric "soft suit" used today. The AX-5 prototypes achieved a flexibility rating of 95%, Why was the AX-5 never on an EVA? One reason was weight, soft suits weight less than hard suits. Hard suits are unappealing visual when compared to the soft suit...which mattered to the NASA PR department, and those joints could lock up in EVA. I can remember NASA fooling around with this concept, and it was believed that the hard suit would be more rigidized for Martian exploration.  
Cornell Man Amplifier (1961)
In the early 1960's, Cornell Aeronautical labs in Buffalo, New York worked on the theory and development of a man amplifier exoskeleton...all prior to Iron Man. The idea was to use bilateral force feedback with force reflection using machine joints (slave) laid upon biological joints (master) to boost the strenght of the wear. It was believed that this suit could take the place of bulky lifting machines and allow the handicapped to walk. The Cornell exoskeleton only got to the mock-up stage and electric joint motors were never applied. However, the research done by Cornell labs for the Man Amplifier exoskeleton did led to the GE Hardiman suit.

In 1986, Army Ranger Monty Reed suffered a broken back during a parachute accident. During his recovery, he read Starship Troopers, and turned his energies to developing a powered exoskeleton. By 2001, Monty had developed the first generation of pneumatically powered LIFESUIT, and the system is in its fourteenth generation. He also established a foundation called They Shall Walk by selling his own ranch to start the work of using the LIFESUIT, now called the RehabSuit to help physically disabled walk. Monty Reed is developing powered exoskeletons for the right reasons, and should be celebrated for bring hope.

NASA X1 Load-Bearing Exo-Suit (2012)
While researching this NASA exoskeleton, I came across a new term: robonaut. It seems that the X1 load-bearing exo-suit being developed by NASA and other companies will be applied to manned and unmanned space missions. This 57 pound suit could be used to prevent muscle loss among astronauts during long duration space mission. Another application of the technology for fleshy space explorers could be off-loading of cargo during expeditions of Mars and other worlds with more normal gravital fields and could recycle via solar panels. This would decrease the need for bulky machines and lessen the risk of injury to the astronaut millions of miles from home. For the robotic space explorers, the X1 could be an telepresence interface for a biped space probe.

Power Assist Suit (1990)

One of the primary real-world applications of powered exoskeletons would be to increase the operator's strength to super-human levels, and allow for lifting to be done in a egomaniac manner. Since 1990, several Japanese firms and universities have experimented with this type of powered exoskeleton, including motorbike manufacture Kawasaki. All seem to aimed at the same market, lifting and possible medical applications, especially important in Japan with an aging population.

H.A.L Suit (2002)

This is yet another Japanese powered exoskeleton called HAL or Hybrid Assertive Limb, that also developed not for war but for lifting and walking, along with looking a bit like suit out of TRON. HAL, now in its fifth generation is built by Cyberdyne of Japan was original developed for medical applications, and in March of 2013, HAL suits were under tests in ten Japanese hospitals. The HAL could be the future of powered armor in everyday life, being a medical device allowing the lifting of heavy patients, physical therapy, and warehouse work. Cyberdyne envisions the HAL suit becoming similar to the bulk of hospital equipment, rented, at a rate of a few thousand dollars a month. 

BLEEX (2004)
The BLEEX or the Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton System was developed by Berekeley University (surprise!) and DARPA for military applications beginning in the year 2000. BLEEX was only mounted to the legs of the soldier to prevent overtaxing of the soldier while hiking over rough terrain while carrying heavy loads. In 2004, a working prototype was tested fitted to a small motor that made the BLEEX as stealthy as a lawnmower. The cost? About $50 million dollars, and the project seems to have ended and the research rolled into another DARPA exoskeleton project.

XOS (2007)
The US Army and DARPA has two powered exoskeletons under development. One being the HULC and the other is the XOS. Raytheon with Sarcos has been working on a full-body powered exoskeleton since 2007. XOS grew out of various other DARPA exoskeleton projects, and Sarcos design was chosen by DARPA for continued development for a cost of $15 million dollars. The primary goals of the XOS exoskeleton was to increase the operator's strength, endurance, and could preform the lifting tasks of up to three soldiers and even some bulky machines. At present, the second generation of XOS powered exoskeletons is under testing with a small motor to provide the power requirement. In order for the XOS system to be fielded, the reliance on a internal combustion motor would have to eliminated in favor of a fuel cell.

HULC (2000)
The Human Universal Load Carrier was developed by Dr. Kazerooni and a team at Ekso Bionics beginning in 2000 and the idea of the HULC was later sold to Lockheed Martin in 2009. Dr. Kazerooni had previously been involved with the BLEEX exoskeleton, and worked to develop a lower-extremity support system that would allow a soldier to carry 200lbs of gear without fatigue for eight hours of operation. Lockheed Martin is currently working on a lighter version for US Army testing. The primary purpose of the HULC is not super-soldier aero-kicks of death, but to allow the soldier to not experience the loss of combat effectiveness via the carrying of 130lbs of combat gear. In order to allow the HULC deployment on longer missions, Lockheed is testing a fuell cell power supply that would allow for 96 hours of operational life.    

DARPA Warrior Web (2012)
DARPA 's Warrior Web project is to enhance the soldier via a soft, flexible, but rugged undergarment that would lighting the load of soldier in combat. This works by supporting the soft tissue of the knees, ankles, and hips, reducing the likelihood of an injury. Augmentation of the soldier's muscles is also in the wishlist as well as the detection of injuries. DARPA is also addressing one of the key issues of powered exoskeleton, power supply. According to DARPA, the Warrior Web would run off a 100 watt power sources.

The Realities of Powered Armor in Combat
What would be the reality of fielding powered armor soldiers in combat? Science fiction often rises the armored power suit to the level of the ultimate badass future weapon system. But the truth is that any system can be destroyed or countered. Powered armor would be a nice juicy target, and given their presumed combat abilities, a likely primary target for the enemy. Powered armor could easily be destroyed with a direct air-strike or direct hit by a tank's main gun. Also, with the layout of powered armor being anatomical similar to the human body, and that there is a flesh-and-blood operator inside the spam can would present a interesting target dynamic.
This would make the head section a focal point for anti-suit sniper units armed with special anti-material rifles (like the COBRA assault cannon from Robocop). The weakness of the helmet area would be increase if there was a visor, and could be a target for any sniper or blue-skinned huntress with a bow and arrow. Frankly, it would be a terrifying thought that an Gauss rifle could be aimed at my helmet at anytime on a battlefield! Along with the head would be the knee joints. Much like the head, the knees could not be armored enough to be as protective as the chest portion and still do their job. If I was a suit sniper in the future, I would aim for the fucking knees. One good clean shot with a state-of-the-art bang-bang rail gun or Gauss cannon KEW, and that knee would be gone, and the suit is immobile.
Beside enemy's using anti-tank cannons on you, powered armor would also be faced with the realities of terrain and energy. Terrain on this planet has defined the types of combat resources that can be brought to bear, and powered armored would be also limited by terrain on this world and others. Take the current combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq would be a better environment for powered armor deployment considering the types of terrain and urban combat zones, along with proximity to friendly resources. Sand could pose an issue, but not like the unforgiving terrain of Afghanistan or even Vietnam. Rough, uneven terrain could pose threats from unstable ground, resulting in falls or damage.
 At the very least, these types of terrain could drain power supplies rapidly, causing the need for resupply. These issues only multiply when you consider dense jungles, like those seen in Vietnam or Pandora, or completely unsettled worlds like Mars. The more hostile the conditions, the more power would be needed to support the operator, even if that means air conditioning while patrolling the deep deserts of Arrakis. Of course, that is one of the great elements of powered armor, sealed environment, even if it eats up power. Your soldiers could march across the arctic would risk of their fingers and toes falling off, and the extreme toll that these types of environmental conditions reap on the unarmored body. In some ways, while weather conditions are always important for combat, powered armor negates some of these. Your soldiers in battlesuits could nice and dry during a rainstorm, cool and comfortable in the middle of the desert, and toasty warm in the deep cold of a Martian desert.        

The Psychological Effect of Powered Armor
At the Battle of Hydaspes River in 326 BC, the forces of Alexander the Great first witnessed the war elephants, and refused to combat the beasts. The Samurai warrior designed their mempo (facemask) and Kabuto (helmet) to strike fear in the hearts of their enemies. There have many reports of the psychological effects of the AC-130 are having on the Taliban. Could powered armor hold the same psychological effect? I think that depends on how common the armor is in the future, and how effective it is in combat. After all, the tanks of World War One were believed to hold psychological effect on the enemy troops, but after the initial shock, most troopers witness their ineffectiveness. Tanks hold more psychological effect post-WWII given their greater effectiveness. Any enemy that had never been exposed to powered armor, would suffer from fear and possibly flee from the assaulting armor. But that would not last, much like Alexander’s soldiers fighting against the war elephants. If powered armor were highly effective in combat situations, then the fear level for soldiers be higher, however, if the armor could be stopped with RPGs, special cannons, shock-charges, or even EMP grenades, than they would be more of an annoyance than some unstoppable juggernaut to piss your panties over.  
Psychological effects work both ways. The operators of powered armor could suffer from a “god-mode” mentality, especially if they came from combat infantry. Consider this, if an infantryman joins the armor corps after service their time in the shit, than their POV on combat would be altered by the donning of the suit. When these operators were in the infantry with their ass-in-the-grass, a near miss by an RPG or one direct hit by an assault rifle round could result in a trip to a field hospital or worse. In the armor, most rifle rounds would be ineffective (at first), and the entire operator to (mostly) ignore the light incoming fire. This could cause a false sense of security for the suit, and could led to trouble. Soldiers will have to be trained to be mindful of the “god mode” effect and the limitations of the armor in combat. After all, no machine is without a weakness, and if it bleeds we can kill it.

Could You Fly with Powered Armor?
Simply put, no. You could pull the Buzz Lightyear "falling with style" move with aid of a glider apparatus. In Starship troopers, the M.I. in their powered armor used short hop-jumps with limited jump-jet capability, but full-on flight like we witnessed in Iron Man using plasma-based rockets (MPD) mounted in your boots is not possible. Even these short hops with jump-jets would be difficult, especially considering CLASS II/III types of powered armor. The reason for doubt lays with weight and fuel supply. With the advancements continues as well as interest in jet-packs, we could see the use of these devices in urban warfare and rapid assault situations in the coming years.
With MILSPEC jet-packs, we could the emergence of specially trained, tactical assault, but lightly armored flight system allowing for limited flight with heavy amounts of training. These troopers would use maneuverability instead of  ballistic protection. However, true-blue CLASS-1 powered armor would not behave like Tony Shark's creation or the jump packs of the Space Marines. One of the key roles of powered armor is to protection of the operator, not to accommodate flight, much of the armor would have to be stripped to allow for increased fuel economy, especially when taking off from the ground. Any flying suit would be a target for AAA, and with less armor and no were near the defensive system of a fighter could all led to dead troopers. Then we have the fuel supply. Given the design of powered armor, there is an obviously lack of fuel storage tanks. Just examine the classic Iron Man suit, no tanks or storage devices that could allow for the performance of flight we've seen in the films and comics...not to mention outrunning F-22 Raptors! On the original gold-and-red comic armor, the liquid fuel tanks were in the cuff of the suit's boots. Seriously...in the cuff. There could be another way, if artificial muscle technology continued, we could propel powered armor on short-hops similar to a flea (not the bassist!).
Here is the Marvel article on how Iron Man could fly:

Full Body Armor vs. CLASS-1 Powered Armor
There is some confusion about the difference between CLASS-1 powered armor and full-body combat armor. In modern warfare, full-body armor that covers nearly 100% of the soldier's body is extremely uncommon. The only example that I know of is the EOD bomb suit. Most soldiers today only wear ballistic armor on the head and center mass area, too allow for maneuverability and less weight. In it possible in the future that the need will arise for full body armor (maybe due to DE weapons?), but micro-A/C systems and flexible armor would need to also be developed. Full personal armor does not require motors/artificial muscle tissue to propel the suit, nor does it increase the wearer's strength, endurance, and less in abilities and complexity along with requiring less energy to operate.

The Weapons of Powered Armor
The armored power suit of science fiction allows for a wide canvas for the creator to mount all manner of offensive and defensive systems. In the original 1959 Starship Troopers opening pages, capsule launched MIs from Rasczak's Roughnecks perform a "smash-and-destroy"raid a Skinny world using heavy-flamers, something called "knife beams" and less-than 2 kiloton atomic rockets. There was no mention of machine guns, assault rifles, nor rotary cannons...just these weapons. This could be due to the mission, but atomic weapons and only a flame-thrower for your defensive armament? Odd choice. It would take the Japanese animation and American RPGs to shape the powered armor weaponry from pulp-era lasers, heat rays, and atomic bombs to something akin to the attack helicopter and Blain from Predator.

The Weapons of the CLASS-1
Given that the majority of CLASS-1 suits use unmodified hands, this allows these operator to utilize standard issue infantry weapons, like the SPARTANs from HALO and the Cyclones from ROBOTECH: the New Generation. With the added abilities of the armor, an operator can wield heavier weaponry, like light machine guns and higher-caliber rifles without the punishing effects. Not only can the armor lift more, it can support more, allowing for a greater capability of grenades, ammunition. Some works content that powered armor could allow an operator to fire weapons effective akimbo.  

The Weapons of the CLASS-2
With the increased mass of the CLASS-2 suit, comes increased abilities, allowing for a CLASS-2 operator to march into battle with greater offensive and defensive weaponry than a CLASS-1 APS. Consider the AMP suit from AVATAR fires crushing 30mm rounds from its hand-cannon, instead of the 7.62mm bullets from the Chief's MA5B rifle. Inside of light machine guns, CLASS-2 suits can use the 12.7mm round for their general purpose machine gun. Also, popular on the CLASS-2 suit are grenade and/or rocket launchers, allowing for greater offensive capabilities. With the increase of size, comes an increase of power supply, that could allow a CLASS-2 suit to carry Gauss, Rail, or even directed energy weaponry that would be impossible on smaller armor systems. Defensive systems get a boost on the CLASS-2 platform that could allow for mounting of an active countermeasure system similar to the Israeli TROPHY.

The Weapons of the CLASS-3
Here is the big boy of powered armor firepower, the CLASS-3! Due to the size of the CLASS-3 being similar to walking tanks of mecha, the offensive and defensive systems increase dramatically. Massive rotary cannons with deep stores of ammunition, rapid-fire cannons, rail guns, large-projectile Gauss guns, directed energy and missiles on a Macross scale. As with the CLASS-2 APS, the third type benefits greatly from a even larger powerplant, allowing for large-scale energy-based weaponry. This increase in size also allows for an increase of defensive systems.

Powering the Power Armor
Fuel is nothing new to military life. From wood to generate cooking fires to gasoline to batteries, the business of modern warfare consumes great amounts of fuel and energy. Traditional, most infantry units need just a source of water, wood, and field rations, but, this could change if powered armor became standard equipment. However, it is more complicated than that. Powering the powered armor is most of the vexing issues with fielding these types of future combat systems to our warfighters. Consider the recent prototype MILSPEC XOS Exoskeleton by Raytheon/Sarcos. It is powered by an internal combustion engine, rather than lithium ion batteries, because it was felt that those batteries posed a risk to the operator. In demonstrations, the XOS was tethered to a power supply, and the head of the project for Raytheon/Sarcos, says that a compact onboard powered supply that would allow the XOS to operate on the battlefield is "more like a decade away."
Power supply is one of the greatest roadblocks to the fielding of powered armor. Much like the electric car, the power only lasts a short amount of time and distance, and that operational time drains rapidly under stress...like combat conditions. Adding stress to the power supply would be terrain, types of weapon systems, and the weight of the armor used to protect the suit from incoming fire. There would be a balancing act between protection, weapon systems and fuel economy, much like a main battle tank. Some sci-fi works have dealt with this issue. In Armor by John Steakley, Felix is locked in bloody close combat on Banshee with the ants, and his batteries cannot hold out under the stress. Felix, in his lighter scout armor, is forced to vampire charge off of downed suits. In my own military sci-fi novel, Endangered Species, the armored American ODA-229 unit is forced into a ranch complex between their objectives, due to the fuel range of the APS.
In the realm of science fiction powered exoskeletons, the answer to the power issue is the micronized fusion generator. With these magically devices, super-soldiers can generate force fields, uber-strength to allow tanks to be tossed, and bend light to achieve ninjaness. While a portable micro-fusion generator would solve the thirsty needs of the suit...where would you put it? On your back? Near your balls? Are you going to train every powered suit operator in nuclear engineering? Would the generator be able to survive the stresses of combat? Other options for the power supply include: fuel cells, liquid fuels, battery packs, internal combustion engines, small rotary engines (Mazda RX-7 anyone?), magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) generator, radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), and micronized nuclear generator.
In most of science fiction, the CLASS-2 AMP suits from AVATAR is powered by monopropellant or fuel cells, while the MJOLNIR CLASS-1 armor from HALO is powered by a micro-fusion reactor, while others are powered by "power pack" that uses super-batteries of the future. Some powered armor actually draws power from the wearer's own body! This is seen in Peter Hamilton's Fallen Dragon with the Skin Suits that are fueled by the wearer's blood. Some of the suits worn by Tony Stark (in the comics), were powered by a battery pack or even betavoltaics. While in the recent films, the Arc Reactor is some sort of micro-fusion generator that is in the firm Handwavium and unobtainium...but really fucking cool. Anyone have a Mr. Fusion or some protoculture laying around?

The Line Between Powered Armor and Cyborgs
There is some debate and confusion about the difference between these two different types of technology amplifying the human body in some sci-fi works. Powered armor, exoskeletons, and general human amplifiers are all exterior modifiers that mostly not hooked into the operator's bodies, save for a plug or sensor cluster. Cyborgs have interior body modifications that enable the amplification, and are often permanent and implanted via surgical methods. There are rare occasions in science fiction cyborgs use powered armor, like what was seen in Ghost in the Shell and Mass Effect 3.     

The Meat Inside the Machine
Science Fiction is divided on who will command powered armor into battle. Works like HALO and Battletech feature specially trained super-soldiers with exclusive usage of these machines. It was made very clear in the HALO universe, that only the SPARTANs could don the Mjolnir without suffering serious injury. This concept is taken even further in the WH40k universe with the Adeptus Astartes. Not only are these marines forged by vast genetic engineering, but they are much greater in scale than a normal human, and their powered armour is also much greater in scale, causing this armour to be the domain of the Adeptus Astartes only.
The more popular concept uses the rarity of powered armor to establish the pilots as more elite, similar to Special Forces or attack jet pilots. Works like my own, Avatar, the APU corps from The Matrix universe, all feature powered armor being operated by specially selected and trained troopers. the third vision of the meat inside the machine is that powered armor is common. So common, in fact, that all infantry are all issued powered armor (CLASS-1 mostly), like the Mobile Infantry of the Starship Troopers novel, the REF from ROBOTECH, or the Terran Marines from the Starcraft universe.   

Peeling the Layers of Powered Armor Away...
Layers and the micro-scale of which certain things function at can betray the complexity that exists beneath the surface, much like the human brain or smart phone. Powered armor is no different, and in science fiction, the battlesuit is often depicted being composed of layers, much like the ancient armor suits of the Knights of Europe and the Samurai. Each of these layers  serves both the greater goal of the armor purpose and its own individual duty, I decided we should peel the layers back of the suit, and describe each of the major layers of mainly CLASS-1 battlesuits. I tried to detail some of the hard future technology that compose the layer. Some of my information came from this article:

The Helmet: Your Brain-Bucket
According to the majority of CLASS-1 powered armor, the helmet will be the main nerve center for control and information for the suit operations. Streams of information would be routed via a HUD systems either projected onto the visor or directly into the eyes. The operator could manage these systems via voice commands, eyes, thought, their tongue, or chin. When it comes to the brain-computer interface control of the suit, besides direct muscle input, superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) could be used. SQUID are very sensitive magnetic field sensors that could detect changes in the brain's activity, allowing for nearly instant reaction.
Of course, the suit would have to learn to the patterns of the operator's brain.  Ghost in the Shell used plugs in the back of the head, to connect the brain of the operator to the computer network of the suit. Other works have devised "thinking caps" to slave the brain and the suit as an interconnected unit. One of the fears of any CLASS-1 armor operator is that their head is there for the entire battlefield to see and hit, because it would be on the weak points on the suit, like the knees. And much like the knees, there could only be so much protection applied to the head give the limited surface area and limited sloping.

Layer 1: Be the Juggernaut
One of the primary roles of powered armor is to allow one soldier to become many, and the outer most layer of the suit allows for one soldier to survive and dominate the battlespace. This layer is the most difficult to strike a balance between protection and mobility. Too much, and the suit is weighted down, taxing the motors and power supply, and causing too much bulk to be effective in an infantry capability. Too little armor, and the suit will be picked apart by incoming fire. Most armored power suits have hard shell plates fitted over the non-flexible portions of the suit. These hard surface portions could be constructed out of various laminates, monocrsytalline iron filaments, Graphene tubes, singe-walled carbon nanotubes, ring carbon,or good old titanium. Science fiction loves to use the term "plasteel" for the outer layer of the suit. All of these would be greater in protective value than current rolled homogenous armor while being lighter in weight, and all angled .The hard plated armor would be modular, allowing for quick replacement during combat, allowing for quicker turnaround times.The flexible portions would be protected some sort of nano-composite material, l. These less-region surfaces could be filled with magnetorheological fluid that response to magnetic field by increase the density, hardening during times of need, and returned to a fluid state after-action. Also, the outside plating could be treating with something similar to that new superhydrophobic spray, to cast off liquids, ablative armor for defense against DEW beams,  and environmental adaptive camouflage paint.

Layer 2: Strong...Like Bull!
Sandwiched between the hard armored layer and the inner supportive two layers for the APS operator, is the critical middle layer that will be used to bridge the gap between man and machine. Packed in a bodysuit-like construction, will be the miles of artificial muscle tissue, micro-motors, or ropes of carbon nanotubes that could spring into dynamic actions to flip tanks or crush bodies. It is best to think of the second layer two has the powered armor equivalent of the muscular system, but would still require some ballistic protection, encase of critical penetration of the hard-shell layer one. By the way, this picture is of me, not Arnold, because I am strong like bull.

Layer 3: Are You Gellin'?
The first layer protects from the hazards of the battlefield while the second layer amplifying the wearer superhuman strength, and the ability to move the suit with the same easy as the operator's own limbs, and this third layer is packed with impact-adsorbing material to cushion the operator and the computer system that would line the inside of the third layer from the shock energy by hostile fire impact. One material that could be used is the recently developed D30 gel-material that goes rigid when impacted. aerogel could be used as a impact absorption material to decrease damage taken from nearly explosions and impacts from kinetic weaponry. This layer would also feature life-support systems, with redundant systems.

Layer 4: Clothing Optional
The powered armor of sci-fi is mixed on what the operator of the armor will be wearing while donning the suit. Some works believe that future armored soldiers would ride into battle in their normal BDUs, like in Avatar inside the AMP suits, others believe that specialized interface suits would be worn, like those seen in Battletech, still others project the use of liquid cooling and ventilation garment like those currently worn by astronauts during EVA operations. Then lastly, we see some works project that the operator of a APS will be in their lingerie or even naked, as we witnessed at the end of some Metroid games! Some of this can be attributed to the carnal desire of humans and geeks, but it could be based in reality. The neuro-network could function more effectively via inputs directly from the wearer's muscles.
 When it came time for my novel with powered armor, I decided that the characters would wear normal combat gear. My thought process was that at some point during combat, the possibility of the operator being forced to abandon the armor due to damage was high, and would you want to be hanging out in your underwear during a firefight? I thought not. There could be a special suit worn instead of BDUs or your Victoria's Secrets that could medically support the wearer. Given that everyone on the battlefield is going to take a shot at you, the suit is going to take damage, and this special fourth layer could be packed with medical-grade nanobots that could repair wounds, injection pain meds, and even support broken bones until the suit can leave the hot-zone. This type of ability is seen with the HEV suit from Half-Life universe. It is certain that any layer four system would keep the operator comfortable, monitor their health, and eliminate any bodily wastes.

Exoplanets: The AO for the APS?
My first attempt at an MSF novel containing an armored power suit unit came in 2010 (The Battle for Shepard's Moons), and used hostile environments on exoplanets to explain why powered armor existed, similar to the powered armor seen in the Radical Comic Shrapnel. Could future exoplanetary battlesites be the natural area of operation for the powered armor?
When we consider cost of powered armor, the weakness of spacesuits in a warzone, along with the support systems needed for troopers on a hostile exoplanet, powered armor may be the way to go. Given the sealed nature of powered armor that allows for NBC protection, it is a good platform to expand on for an armored hardshell spacessuit for combat EVA. Also, powered armor could fill in for other heavier support elements, along with infantry, by use of different classes of armor. APS units could be the rapid response force for an colonizing military organization. This would allow for the right combination of maneuverability and firepower for most tactical situations, especially if the operators of the armor are correctly trained. One can image APS clad troopers dropped onto a low-gravity moon, weapons at the ready, and hostiles getting ready for a fight. 

Powered Armor or Armored Spacesuit?
When we do indeed step off-world, future combat zones will not be limited to the garden planets of the galaxy, but lifeless moons, and frozen deserts, causing infantry to don militarized EVA suits to protect the resources. Powered armored makes a good fit for a MILSPEC spacesuit, given its fully sealed nature and being designed for combat conditions, which spacesuits are not. In the pages of Starship Troopers, this is said: "A suit isn't a spacesuit-although it can serve as one". And we have seen powered armor being used in hazard environments and space warfare in many sci-fi works, and the line is often blurred, much like in The Forever War with the fighting suits. It would be more economical for a future government to field APS wearing infantry for these types of operations rather than marines in combat spacesuits.

Could Powered Armor be Standard Equipment for all Infantry?
One popular concept in science fiction is that future governments will buy and field CLASS-1 powered armor for all of their infantry, much like the Federation in Starship Troopers. Is this even possible? I think not. First, there is the massive cost of outfitting millions of infantry with their own suits, and the staff to maintain and service the armor. Then we have an increase in infrastructure to handle the greater demand for energy/fuel and spare parts. There would also be a more involved training process and selection for soldiers that could handle the demands of operating powered armor. Of course, if all infantry of this future government were outfitted in suits, then there would be less infantry. After re-reading Starship Troopers and Armor for this blogpost, I get the impression that the infantry in those novels is smaller than current standing armies.

Organic technology is the combination of science and engineering utilizing biological systems for use with hard technology. Given that there are thousands of Terran species that make use of organic armor, could the same idea be applied to powered armor? Science fiction seems to think so. While more science takes queues from organic models, it is not yet quiet up to the level of organic technology seen in science fiction, but synthetic biology is on the horizon. Bio-armor or organic armor would be an interesting answer to some of the basic problems of hard technology APS systems. Bio-armor could heal itself, be powered by ATP producing Mitochondrion power-cells, like our own bodies, and even be combined with nano-based technology. While all of this sounds great for all types of APS, it does rise some questions. Could the bio-armor be removed? Would the bio-armor be more susceptible to biological or chemical weapons than traditional armor? How would the operator's own body and the bio-armor interact?

Could Powered Armor Benefit Combat Female Soldiers More?
With the dust-up recently over the women being allowed into the special forces and other combat branches of the US Military, could armored power suits benefit female soldiers? Those that are against females in combat roles, argue that because women are shorter, smaller, has less endurance for aerobic activities, and less than half of the upper body strength of men, all adding up they could be a hazard to a unit rather than a benefit.
There is also concern over what will happen when female soldiers are wounded in combat on unit morale. I
 explored this possibility in my own novel Endangered Species, via my main character, Jorja Leeds. She reflects on her Dragoon APS allowed her to be on equal footing, unlike her days in the infantry, with both friend and foe. I am certain that powered armor could dismiss some of the arguments against women in combat, especially the physical differences between the sexes, and leveling the battlefield. Even in the examples currently being experimenting with, original physical strength matter little in the overall performance of the suit. Some may argue that if the female operator had to abandon the APS in a combat zone, than the old issues with women in combat would crop back up. My personal opinion is that women should serve in combat. FWS will exploring this topic in greater detail in a upcoming blogpost.

Will Powered Armor be a Reality?
Yes...but in what form? I believe that powered exoskeletons that are currently under development to lightly the war-gear load-out of soldiers will be deployed by 2025, and commercial exoskeletons designed for the strength amplification will be used in the warehouse and medical fields possible earlier. What we have seen in Elysium will be a battlefield reality. The full-body enclosed powered armor of Starship Troopers will depend on the need. If these types of powered armor are to be developed, the need and money will have to be there. My guess is that once we begin to colonize, the line between powered armor and ballistic MILSPEC spacesuit will blur. I also believe that the continued population growth coupled with the increase in urbanize could led to CLASS-2 powered armor systems. Of course, CLASS-2 could be an outgrowth of off-world sealed powered work exoskeletons, like the AMP suits from AVATAR for example.

The Different Interpretation of the  Powered Armor from Starship Troopers
Since 1959, there have vast array of interpretations of the powered armor seen in the original Robert Heinlein text. Some were simply cover artists making their mark on the book, and most bared little similarity to the suits mentioned in the book.

The Original Text (1959)
Three different types of powered armor existed in the 1959 text: Marauder, Scout, and Command, all these "steel gorillas" with different functions, abilities, and armaments. The Marauder was the standard assault suit, and could be tailored to the operator's taste and the mission profile, and was the even of all the other suits' abilities. During the raiding mission on the Skinny world, the Marauder suits were seen hopping from objective to objective, while tossing atomic grenades and baking Skinnies with hand flamers. The weakest in terms of arms and armor was the scout suit, but could travel further with greater jump capabilities. Command suits were issued to the field commanders, and featured greater communications, informational feeds for the other suits under the officer's command, increased power, and jump-jets. It is unknown of the Command suit had greater armaments than the Marauder suit. One of the main descriptor of the Mobile Infantry suit was that: "suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons. But the suits are considerably stronger than a gorilla. If a Mobile Infantry man in a suit swapped hugs with a gorilla, the gorilla would be dead, crushed; the man and suit wouldn't be mussed."

The Avalon Hill Board Game (1976)
One of the first works outside of the original Starship Trooper novel was the 1976 Avalon Hill board game that pitted the Mobile Infantry against the Skinnies and the Arachnids. All types of the powered armor of the M.I. is featured here, along with hostile alien units. I came across the original 1976 manual online, and there is nothing mentioned about the types of weapons used by the M.I. troopers, however the armor is featured in several black-&-white drawings. On the box and in the gaming manual, the armor is depicted as a cross between Iron Man's original grey armor fitted with a dive helmet. In the hands of the dropping in M.I. troopers is a ray-gun rifle indicative of the 1960's sci-fi films. While the game did forward military sci-fi  gaming, and kept SST in the minds of another generation, there is nothing much about powered armor here.

The Uchu No Senshi Anime OVA (1988)
In 1988, Uchu No Senshi or "Space Soldiers" was release in Japan and told the story of Johnny Rico over six-parts. This Laser-Disc film was never formally released in the United States,  but fans have been dubbing it and selling it for years. Uchu No Senshi is closer to the 1959 novel than the movies or American animated series. The powered armor featured in the six-part OVA were called Pawado Sutsu and also called "Enhanced Combat suits". Unlike the novel, these CLASS-2 powered armor would feature more conventional armaments, like assault rifles and machine guns, along with grenade launchers. Much like the novel, the Japanese suits use jet-packs, some sort of atomic rocket, and different classes of the basic suit, like commander, scout, flamer, and heavy gunner. There was also a number of similarities to the novel powered armor, like a HUD system controlled by inputs from the chin, and some of the Y-rack concept listed in the novel. I personally love the design of these powered armor.

The Roughnecks Animated Series (1999)
While the 1997 live-action movie was void of anything like powered armor, this animated series that was tied to the movie, did feature powered armorAccording to the official Roughnecks series outline, the Mobile Infantry wears CLASS-1 type of powered armor. This allows for greater speed, reaction time, increased strength, full hostile environmental protection, and greater offensive and defensive capabilities. In the series itself, the powered armor effect is not well done, making these "power suits" as they are called, to more akin to armored MILSPEC combat spacesuits complete with fancy head-lamps and embedded sensor technology in visor. One cool element in the series was the power suits did not float, and that the Federation's allies, the Skinnies don their own "alien"powered armor.

The Starship Troopers Comics (1997-2006)
 Over the years, several companies held the rights to publish comics based on Starship Troopers. When these rights were held, caused the armor SST universe to conform to that particular vision. The first rash of comics from Dark Horse were based on the 1997 film, and the art on the armor of the Mobile Infantry was reflected. That meaning, there was no powered armor in these comics, only the blue-grey partial body armor of the film. The next wave of comics that came around the time of the animated Roughneck series. In turn, these comics by a smaller press, used the series' CLASS-1 type of powered armor and even the CLASS-2 "Marauder" type. Another type of heavier CLASS-2 APS was seen in the pages of SST: Dominant Species, that was developed and used in the invasion of the Bugs' homeworld. This appears to heavily armor and armed to deal with the massive numbers of bugs. These comics died out in 2006, and so far, no new SST comics have emerged, which could be based on the new animated movie, Invasion.

Starship Troopers Video Games
Several video games have designed around the SST universe, and most of these have followed in the footsteps of the 1997 film. The 2000 real-time strategy game SST: Terran Ascendancy featured several classes of powered armor that were based off terms used in the 1959 text. From scout, to commander, to marauder, there were many choices, but all were on the ugly side, given the limits of graphic technology in 2000. These suits seem more heavier construction, like a piece construction equipment than not an CLASS-2 combat suit. It seems for the gameplay online, that a majority of the heavier suit act has heavy weapons support. In the 2005 computer-shooter, the player takes control of an advanced CLASS-1 powered armor called "marauder" that was in the prototype phase, and you fight in the 1997 universe. The suit was barely seen in the game, and looks and acts typical of a CLASS-1 suit in a video game setting.

Starship Troopers: 3 Marauder (2008)
After two live-action films, fans of SST finally received our reward: heavily armed powered armor in the third direct-to-DVD film. As seen in the film, under a Federation top secret project, known as Marauder, CLASS-2 combat armor was developed by the official name of the M11 Marauder, but nicknamed "Babar" after the beloved Elephant. According to the official model/toy data-card, the Armored Bipedal Vehicle was 3.65 meters and weighted in at 10.3 tons, all powered by a fission driver that generated enough power for a 638 mile range at 8 MPH. The variety of weapons varied greatly, from rotary cannons, 155mm cannons, 15.6mm four-barreled machine guns, 41mm grenades, flamethrowers, and twin-barreled smoothbore 40.4mm cannons. In the film, a team of these heavily CGI prototype vehicles appear on the scene, and rake the incoming bugs with hellish outgoing fire. Prior to their kicking ass, the entire team had be full-body scanned in the nude...and the entire cast stepped up, got nude, and let the bright yellow run over them. Totally unneeded. I will give the third film credit, the Babar APS is a nice design.  

Starship Troopers: Invasion (2013)
In the 2013 American animation that took place in the 1997 film universe, the Roughnecks use power suits that are firmly CLASS-1. These are called Power Suits, and feature two layers. The inner most layer is called a "muscle suit", which increases the wearer's strength, while the outer layer, called the main powered suit is designed to be the body armor.

Starship Troopers Remake Powered Armor (20XX)
If and when the SST remakes gets off of the ground, it has been confirmed, in 2012, by producer Tony Jaffee that we will see powered armor in the new movie. The question is what will the Mobile Infantry be wearing...CLASS-1 or CLASS-2?

The Military Science Fiction and Powered Armor Connection
The relationship of military science fiction and powered armor runs deep, and since nearly the beginning of the sub-genre of MSF, powered armored infantry has been there. Part of this relationship is due to the founding classic of military sci-fi also featured one of the most iconic tales of powered armor in future combat, Starship Troopers in 1959. But, what is about powered armor that allows it so easily to be an iconic element of futuristic warfare? My guess is that since full-body armor disappeared after the spread of firearms to the battlefield, it's reemergence would be via a great leap in technology, especially given the world of modern warfare. Powered armor itself is radically different that any technology used for current infantry and the image alone of future soldiers in full-on body armor that increases their strength and allows them to separated from the local environment while wielding massive weaponry is purely futuristic, and is a powerful tool for the creator and audience. I think powered armor is a symbol, like FTL space travel, laser blasters that best demonstrates the abilities of the future civilization seen in the fictional work.

The Most Influential Powered Armor in Science Fiction

The Powered Armor from Starship Troopers (1959)
FWS states it many times, but it bears repeating herte: Starship Troopers is the founding classic of military science fiction, and the usage of powered armor in future wars. While E.E. Doc Smith basically invented powered armor for Lensman series of novels, Robert Heinlein refined the concept, forging the traditions that authors/creators of sci-fi continue to honor even today. Supporting the influence of the 1959 novel is that two of the other founding classics of military sci-fi literature Armor and the Forever War are either response to the Heinlein's book or inspirited by it. Even after 54 years, Heinlein's little political/military novel with soldiers in armor fighting bugs on other planets is still read, discussed, and attempted to be translated into different types of media.

The MJOLNIR Powered Armor From the HALO Universe (2001)
I credit HALO with reinventing tired sci-fi genres, especially the super-soldier and powered armor. For many of us, powered armor was used by Tony Stark in the comics, and characters in Japanese cartoons, and RPG war games, but in 2001, HALO: Combat Evolved would give use the SPARTANs and their badass MJOLNIR powered armor. Unlike many works previous that featured powered armor hero, HALO was well crafted game that allow for the player to be immersed in the game, and the armor became a key component for the player's survival and identity. It also helped that the Chief was not a unstoppable space marine with godlike powers, but a flesh-and-blood super-soldiers that could dominate if smart. In additional to the games, several well-written MSF novels and comics expanded the world of the SPARTANS, cemeting the domiance of   For many gamers and sci-fi geeks, HALO's SPARTAN clad in their MJOLNIR armor is one of most iconic powered armor suits of all time. With the extreme popularity of the HALO games and books, the MJOLNIR transformed into one of the most well known examples of CLASS-1.

Iron Man Suits from Iron Man (1963)
In the 1963 Tales of Suspense #39, Stan Lee developed the most influential powered armor in popular media with the character of Tony Stark and his armored suit just four years after Starship Troopers. From 1968 with the first issue of the original series to all the way to 2013, Iron Man has continued to forge new fans and reinvigorate old fans, like me, with awesometacular movies, comics, and toys. For some reason, Iron Man is just one of those easily accessible properties that speaks some part within us that loves sweet fucking armor. This power of Iron Man to mint new fans, allows this suit to be the most iconic and recognized powered armor in the world and continues to be an influence on the next generations of powered armor in science fiction.

The Space Marine Power Armour from Warhammer 40K (1987)
Call me Chad, Mother Fucker!
How could we have any discussion of powered armor without mentioning the Space Marines from WH40K? This is their identity, what sets the Space Marines apart from the rest of the unwashed masses of humanity, and it both their protection and their prison. Games Workshop developed an insane future world of violent, guns, evil, and massive battles with these armored warriors in the middle of all it, to captured our imaginations of the glory and power of bloody combat in the 41st millennium. Coming in the mid-1980's, the dark world of 40K created legions of fans to the powered armor via the impressive visuals associated with the series and offered a darker, twisted vision of the future and warfare. For me, WH40K, created some of the modern military sci-fi ideas about the abilities and uses of powered armor in future wars.  

The Caterpillar P-5000 Work-Loader from ALIENS (1986)
Live-action powered armor is rare, even today with the level of special effects that is possible. However one of the most iconic live-action cimema examples of powered armor came in 1986, with James Cameron's legendary film  ALIENS. Due to the skill of the director, the material, the success of the film, and the SFX associated with the powerloder, it became one of the most influential powered armor designs, spawning copies for decades. Speaking to the power of this design, companies actually looked at fielding real-world examples for use in factories and warehouses as a replacement for conventional forklifts. A few prototypes were shopped around at factory/foundry tradeshows in the late 1980's and early 1990's as possibilities for a production model . My father, who owned several grey ductile iron foundries, witnessed these prototypes and told my brother and I that he would buy one of the foundry. I had dreams of donning ALIENS style powered armor for years after that...damned broken promises! One of the cool elements about the ALIENS powerloader is that it's primary purpose was not a strictly military application. The powerloader was onboard the Sulaco as a futuristic forklift, and was only used in a military (and kick ass) way due a desperate situation.  

Doctor Doom's Armor from the Marvel Universe (1962)
While most people believe that the first major comic book character who is used powered armor to achieve super status was Tony Stark with his Iron Man armor in 1963. However, Doctor Doom was first seen in Fantastic Four #5 in July of 1962. Unlike Tony Stark's invention, Doom's armor was originally magically forged by Tibetan Monks, and enhanced by Doom's superior intelligence. With these enhancements, Doom was gifted with onboard computers, flight, increased strength, enhanced vision, support systems. Doctor Doom has become an icon of evil characters in comics, along with have one of the most familiar powered armor designs.  

The Fighting Suits from The Forever War (1975)
The Forever War took the concepts of the powered suit from Starship Troopers and took several steps further down the road:"the suit was fairly comfortable, but it gave you the odd feeling of simultaneously being a marionette and a puppeteer. You apply the impulse to move your leg and the suit picks it up and magnifies it and move your leg for you." While SST may have set down the traditions of powered armor in sci-fi, Forever War set the powered armor more into the context of space-based combat, very long-term usage, and evolution of the system over the course of the war. I especially enjoyed how the exhaust fins of the suit could effect the environment of the deep space training planet. In the book, the hot exhaust could melt frozen gas pockets causing death. With the success of the Forever War and the high regard that the novel is held in, it became a widely read novel that contained powered armor. I personally enjoy this novel much more than SST.

The Chozo Power Suit from the Metroid Universe (1986)
Over 17 million games sold, and ranked with a positive rating of 85% is one of the most iconic powered armored clad characters in sci-fi video gaming, Samus Aran and her Chozo-developed power suit. It also helped that the original Metroid games was exclusively released on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, which for many gamers alive today, was their first exposure to home console video gaming (mine was the original wood and plastic ATARI 2600...OG baby, OG). In 1987, Metroid would become of the most successful non-arcade port games on the NES in North America. Everyone I knew in 1987 had the NES and Metroid. Metroid was a triple threat, not only was a great fluid and dynamic game, it had the first female character, and she donned one hell of a cool powered armor that Samus would wear thoughout the game. This was not lost on us gamers at the time. Many of us talked about how cool the armor was in the lunchrooms of my youth, and I know that Samus' armor had effect on my POV on powered armor. To this day, when you google "powered armor", the Metroid heroine is easily in the top tier of the entries. 

The Terran Marine Powered Armor from Starcraft Universe (1998)
Much like Iron Man and Metroid, sales success and excellence in game development led to your in-game powered armor to become a influential design. The Starcraft games sold nearly 10 million copies, spawned toys, books, manga, and alternated youth culture in South Korea. With this success and widespread disruption, came the popularity of the Terran Marine powered armor. This only increased when the teaser-trailer premiered in 2007, fully detailing Tychus Findlay's release from prison and back into his armor. Truly, this gives me geek chills every time.

T-51b Powered Infantry Armor from the Fallout games (1997)
When you google the term powered armor, the T-51b powered infantry armor from the Fallout games comes up many times, nearly as many as Iron Man and the Master Chief. Why? The popularity of the Fallout games is one factory,along with the design of the armor itself is very cool and post-nuclear holocaust setting that works in conjunction with the popularity of the suit. All of these factors have caused the Fallout T-51b suit to become to an influential design. I guess I need to play Fallout 3.

The CryNet Nanosuit from the Crysis Universe (2007)
The majority of powered armor seen in sci-fi is composed of "hard technology" that created futuristic battlesuit to resemble the Knights of Europe. In 2007, the video game Crysis would change that, and introduce the use of nanotechnology in conjunction with powered armor. Nano-tech is nothing new in the realm of sci-fi, but the way that the Crysis games incorporated the technology into the gameplay, the story, and even the alien invasion is pretty amazing. Also amazing was that the game and its portrayal of powered armor started a movement in sci-fi to include nano-tech in powered armor designs.


A very good an in-dpeth article on the hard technology of powered armor http://www.dcr.net/~stickmak/JOHT/joht15poweredarmor.htm

Possible technological elements of the Nanosuit from Crysis 

The reality of the exosuit from Elysium

The history of real-world powered armor

15mm minature powered armor troopers