‘Third arm’ may lessen Soldier’s burden, increase lethality
By Sean Kimmons  Army.mil

Future ground troops may one day have a “third arm” device attached to their protective vests that will hold their weapon, lessening the weight on their arms and freeing up their hands for other tasks.

Weighing less than 4 pounds, the body-worn weapon mount is currently undergoing testing at the Army Research Laboratory, where researchers hope the lightweight device will ensure Soldiers pack a more powerful punch in combat.

“We’re looking at a new way for the Soldier to interface with the weapon,” said Zac Wingard, a mechanical engineer for the lab’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate. “It is not a product; it is simply a way to study how far we can push the ballistic performance of future weapons without increasing Soldier burden.”

Today, some Soldiers are weighed down by combat loads that exceed 110 pounds. Those heavy loads, he said, may worsen as high energy weapons, which could be larger with heavier ammunition, are developed for future warfare.

“You wind up pushing that Soldier’s combat load up beyond 120 pounds and they’re already overburdened,” he said last week at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium. “We [now] have Soldiers in their late teens and early 20s and they’re getting broken sometimes in training before they see a day in combat.”

The goal of the third arm device is to redirect all of a weapon’s weight to the body, making it easier for the Soldier to carry a more lethal firearm.

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Photo courtesy of US Army