"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.
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- Can go where tanks cannot
- Psychological effect
- Defensive systems
The History of Powered Armor in Science Fiction
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!
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.
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.
AX-5 Hard-Shell Spacesuit (1988)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
The Realities of Powered Armor in Combat
The Psychological Effect of Powered Armor
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?
Here is the Marvel article on how Iron Man could fly:
Full Body Armor vs. CLASS-1 Powered Armor
The Weapons of Powered Armor
The Weapons of the CLASS-1
The Weapons of the CLASS-2
The Weapons of the CLASS-3
Powering the Power Armor
The Line Between Powered Armor and Cyborgs
The Meat Inside the Machine
Peeling the Layers of Powered Armor Away...
The Helmet: Your Brain-Bucket
Layer 1: Be the Juggernaut
Layer 2: Strong...Like Bull!
Layer 3: Are You Gellin'?
Layer 4: Clothing Optional
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?
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?
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?
Could Powered Armor Benefit Combat Female Soldiers More?
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?
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)
The Uchu No Senshi Anime OVA (1988)
The Roughnecks Animated Series (1999)
The Starship Troopers Comics (1997-2006)
Starship Troopers Video Games
Starship Troopers: 3 Marauder (2008)
Starship Troopers: Invasion (2013)
Starship Troopers Remake Powered Armor (20XX)
The Military Science Fiction and Powered Armor Connection
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)
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!|
The Caterpillar P-5000 Work-Loader from ALIENS (1986)
Doctor Doom's Armor from the Marvel Universe (1962)
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 Terran Marine Powered Armor from Starcraft Universe (1998)
T-51b Powered Infantry Armor from the Fallout games (1997)
The CryNet Nanosuit from the Crysis Universe (2007)
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