Revision Military’s Exoskeleton Powered Armor

Starship Troopers was one of the seminal science fiction books of my youth. The novel describes a totally new form of warfare, where near-special-operations soldiers individually had a great impact on the battlefield through the use of powered armor, which so completely covered its wearer that it was described as looking like a “steel gorilla suit”, as I recall.

That novel wasn’t just influential in my upbringing; it spawned a whole new subgenre of military science fiction dealing with powered-armor-equipped “space marines” and their adventures. On the military side, powered armor has been one of the holy grails of potential future infantry technologies. While the vehicular fields are updated almost constantly by more powerful or efficient engines, the infantry are always restricted to “1 man power”.

What if they weren’t? Revision Military, makers of military glasses and helmets, has created a very slick new promotional video showcasing their concept for an Exoskeleton Integrated Soldier Protection System:

Revision isn’t the first to try to realize the powered armor concept, but their video does portray a pretty compelling vision for the future. As mentioned in the below video, most previous concepts have concerned logistical capabilities. This is because powered armor is highly dependent on the power source; if a user can plug into the grid, it’s a much simpler problem:

Powered armor, if possible, will be realized I think. The reasons to do so are too numerous. Combat disability has increased in frequency due to a combination of heavier loads being carried, and soldiers coming from less rugged backgrounds. A technological improvement that would alleviate both stresses to the knee and seriously augment the basic manpower of the individual could very well revolutionize infantry combat, if it can be realized in a way that is rugged, mobile, and affordable.

The introduction and integration of powered armor units will probably reflect that of night vision optics: The first such units issued will be clunky, heavy, and almost-useless, but still offering a totally different capability than was available before.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Blake
    • mechamaster

      Brotherhood of Steel !

    • JW

      T51b, Yo!

    • Jon Ugalde

      I prefer this,

      • Nergyl

        Get out of here, stalker.

    • Matt Shermer

      Even though it’s technically inferior to T-51B, I liked the T-45D Power Armor a whole lot more in Fallout 3. I used the Advanced Riot Gear the most from the Lonesome Road Expansion Pack for Fallout: New Vegas, Good protection value on a Medium Armor.

  • Tassiebush

    It requires improvement before it will be up to chasing genestealers through spacehulks!

  • Bal256

    Powered exoskeleton seems a more appropriate term here. It doesn’t seem like it has much more “armor” than what troops already wear today. I suspect that a fully enclosed system will also need a built in cooling system and some other life-support systems that make it into a complex beast. But hey, even if all it gives us right now is less knee and back problems, that’s already a really nice improvement.

    • sianmink

      It allows the soldier to use heavier, more compact plates, reducing bulk. It may not look like more protection, but it really is. Also armoring the legs is very difficult as any weight added there adds a great deal to fatigue. Exo systems will eliminate that fatigue cost, so cuisses and greaves with substantial ballistic protection finally become feasible.

      • LCON

        Ground pounders, logistics, maintenance, Artillery, Exosuits have the potential to change the entire Military across all services. from protecting infantry to arming fighters to building ships it’s a game changer

    • J.T.

      Cooling won’t be an issue. Cooling vests are already starting to become common and the technology keeps getting better.

    • dan citizen

      The revision rig has a cooling system, I wonder what their power source is?

  • dasds

    At least it’s not DARPA’s sciencefiction project. It could work excepts those optics in helm.

    • LCON

      actually those are real. The bug eyes are the GPNVG Panoramic night vision system. they are used by SF Units like the Seals Who nailed OBL ( who were wearing such ) it’s four NOD Tubes spaced in a manor to give a wider field of View during night operation

      • dasds

        In night operations could agree with it but wearing it all the time would be a torture 😀

        • LCON

          true, I am not sure why they showed it like that. All I can figure is they were going to do the Video with a filter post production to make it look like a night scene but last second dropped it. That helmet looks like Revision’s Batlskin maybe the Cobra model which has a clip on clear ballistic visor which would have been better in daylight.

  • kipy

    One step closer to battling the Covenant

  • gunslinger

    Evangelion? S2 engines?

    • Vitor

      S2 engines were of biological origins. Those engines were actually organs.

  • Nergyl

    I like the NVG analogy, Nate. The integration of electronics into infantry systems has a much longer history than most people think.

  • Nicks87

    What! No cod piece?!

  • bill

    I want to see one of these armor systems with two of those ammo feeding packs and a cut down water cooled M240 on each arm. Maybe put the 240’s on a rail so they can slide back and the soldier can use their hands.

  • mcducky

    Where do you store the 20Km extension cord???

    • dan citizen

      the humvee behind you carries the generator.

      • LCON

        Humvee, Stryker in the future maybe a UGV ( like Lockheed Martin’s SMSS, MUTT or Boston Robotics Big Dog) , ULCV, JLTV, upgraded Bradley IFV, ACV 1.1,

  • dan citizen

    Great article. I really love what’s happening in this field.

  • Yellow Devil

    I, for one, support expanding this idea.

  • ColaBox

    But wait! Call of Duty did it so it can never happen now!!one1121one.

  • toms

    2 problems 1) being rare earth battery driven, energy source production controlled by China and other antagonists 2) only lasts for an hour or two with a full load. Cool concept though and will improve over time.

    • LCON

      6 hour battery time which is a serious limitation for general infantry and prevents a number of mission types at this point it’s fine for raiding but not long patrols. There is some albeit limited US and Canadian Rare Earth mining Although the PRC does have a near monopoly

      • Chrome Dragon

        US rare earth mines are there, but idle. We could spin them up on short notice, if it was cheaper than buying from China.

        If the patrol involved vehicles, there’s no reason you couldn’t run from a power umbilical until it became necessary to dismount. A small linear actuator in the plug could even automatically dump the extension cable when someone reported contact with the enemy.

  • Jim_Macklin

    Microwave power transmission, 100% closed system NBC and kinetic weapons protection. Wing suit with jet-pack power, Bailout of a C17 at 45,000 feet and fly 100 Km to the battle. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and rockets kick in if you jump while airborne.
    For get the M240, M134 and a self-loading 81 mm mortar.
    Armadillo armor, at detection of a dangerous IED, the suit will close into an armored ball with no exposed extremities.
    Not Just Starship Troopers, but Bolo technology.

  • noguncontrol

    it would be cheaper to use wheeled drones instead of power-armored infantry. power source will be gasoline or diesel engine, with noise cancellation tech. even cheaper would be to reduce the combat load of the infantry, lighter gun, lighter ammo, less gear overall, have a wheeled drone carry the real heavy stuff.

    • Nergyl

      The best solution would be a combination of both. A squad or platoon-level robotic platform could tag along with infantry and act as their mule; that’s the idea behind the BigDog project. But such a machine could always get stuck or destroyed, so there’s a distinct advantage to carrying equipment on your body.

      As for lighter equipment, it’s not as easy or cheap as it sounds. To get truly lighter armor, we’ll have to invent far better ballistic fibers and ceramics. Lighter guns? Often the solution involves the use of expensive titanium or risky engineering tradeoffs. Lighter ammunition? That would demand significant investment in either caseless or polymer-cased ammo.

      • Chrome Dragon

        The CTWS program looks like it’s going to achieve the goal of lighter ammo in the very near future.

        Graphene could offer lighter armor, and a company in Florida called Garmor is looking into creating bulk graphene and buckytubes. I suppose you could use buckytube-wrapped barrels with steel liners to lighten the gun significantly, and if carbon based materials maintain their thermal conductivity at the macro scale, it might even *decrease* barrel heat loading.

    • n0truscotsman

      Yeah I agree. At least drones can have the power issue somewhat resolved with conventional power.

      In order for powered exoskeletons or powered armor to work, we need to overcome the power issue. There needs to be something revolutionary. Something that allows us to produce and/or store energy long enough to remain relevant in a fight.

    • Yalalan

      Quick release lower body exoskeleton attached via power cord to a wheeled pack drone seems they way to go. Would cut down on fatigue, injuries and increase movement speed.

  • Cesare Renzi

    Goddamn Starship Troopers. A more grating, self-absorbed, contradictory, ham-fisted manifesto I’ve never read.

    • Bob

      I read the book many years ago and recall liking it, so just curious, what was so bad about it?

      • Cesare Renzi

        Well, let me put it this way: when I’m really into a book I imagine the author as a (usually) genderless figure which narrates the events like some sort of internal narrator. When I read Starship Troopers the image that kept popping up was that of a wannabe martinet describing his utopia, where his own existence was finally justified by the presence of an impersonal enemy threathening the human race. It felt like reading one of those apocalyptical nuts who wish for the end of the world just to gloat at the lost souls.

        I must say, though, that it did leave quite an impression on me.

        • Nergyl

          It was certainly a weird book. Though judging by Heinlein’s strong individualist beliefs, it seems it was more of a thought experiment than a serious effort to justify authoritarianism.

        • Bob

          “I must say, though, that it did leave quite an impression on me.”
          It did me as well. I noted that it seemed to be written from a “Marines! OOORAH!” point of view, looking down on the weak and uncommitted civies, but still, I was impressed. Coming from a rather liberal everyone-is-special-and-all-you-need-is-to-be-yourself background, it was an interesting read as a child and I find the military mindset is one that appeals to me more and more these days.
          Just for an example of what I mean by that: I have trained in two major styles of martial arts. One was a Mcdojo that handed out praise like it was water for just showing up. The other, more recent one, is more hardcore military-style, where not too long ago I was literally yelled at for about twenty minutes by the lead instructor to do a throw properly before finally I was blessed with “Looks like you aren’t as dumb as a rock after all.”
          Guess which “praise” meant more to me? The one I got for walking in the door, or the one I actually worked for and endured a little bit of stress for? (Never mind the argument of whether or not an attacker on the street would be polite and not stress you at all…) It’s all about pecking order and respect, and I find the kind I have to earn rather than be given to be more valuable.
          Sorry, I’m good at going on tangents… ;D

          • Cesare Renzi

            Since this is hardly a literary club, I suppose that I should be the first to be blamed for derailing the topic. Nevertheless, I think you highlighted the point I was trying to make in my previous post. You see, the duality between an “hard” stance on education and a “soft” one is painfully central in this book, and it is a good example of a straw man argument. By presenting his own fantasies as a grounded reality and portraying fictional adversaries as whiny daydreamers Heinlein attempts to justify the militaristic society.

            Central to the book is the idea that the staunch, unquestioning defence of one’s own culture must be central to a person, and that this idea must be inculcated from early on. This serves a function under the threath of a faceless, aggressive “bug” as an enemy, but the pretence of the writer is to present this kind of society as a sustainable standard.

            And that’s what galls me so. The author has found a slice of society that he likes, and he merrily strives to apply the, shall we say, “navy way” to every facet of the human consortium. He presumes too much, even going as far as trying to portray the representatives of the regime as tired underdogs when they complain about the unreasonable, non-voting majority who have somehow retained enough political power to oppose them.

          • Bob

            I too am to blame for derailing the topic here.
            I just reread the book. I still liked it, but you just summed up my main concern about it in different words. The whole thing with his father in the beginning is particularly annoying to me. Still, an interesting read in my mind.

  • Roderick Lalley

    Seems jerky when locking the knee out, over travel ???

    • noob

      probably decalibrated on purpose to show that there is a motor in there that is actually doing something. a perfectly calibrated low profile exoskeleton should move naturally and be unnoticeable when worn under clothes.

  • TangledThorns

    I expect it to look more like the exo suits we saw in Edge of Tomorrow.

    • MrDakka

      Sadly that’s not going to happen until the power generation issue is solved.

  • MrDakka

    I’m calling BS on the “100%” load transfer numbers. While it probably will do what it claims in reducing the load to the knees and overall operator energy expenditure, there’s no mechanism (ankle joint) on the HAS for transferring the weight to the ground. So the operator’s knees will have to partially support the load in conjunction with HAS.

    In addition, the operator’s ankles and feet will have to support everything. However, it should increase the operator’s overall endurance.

  • John Daniels

    “Starship Troopers was one of the seminal science fiction books of my youth. The novel describes a totally new form of warfare, where near-special-operations soldiers individually had a great impact on the battlefield through the use of powered armor, which so completely covered its wearer that it was described as looking like a “steel gorilla suit”, as I recall.”

    Also, Heinlein made some compelling arguments about why Mobile Infantry use jump suits and all manner of explosives, and not rifles. Weapons that have to be aimed pretty much went away entirely, it’s explained in the book. The few aimed weapons that remain are directed energy weapons that can paralyze the enemy or cut a man in half from miles away, IIRC.

  • Joshua Madoc

    Where’s his gorget?