In March of 2017, news broke of the Army's interest in giving soldiers a third arm. Now, this wasn't some sort of gene-splicing experiment run amok, but rather a device that would attach to a soldier’s vest to help take the load off when holding heavy objects.
According to the Army, the third arm would enable troops to carry larger, futuristic weapons without increasing the burden on the individual — they even discussed the possibility of handheld railguns, which would not only be heavy but pack one heck of a punch.
This week, a new report came out of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, the device is officially being called the Third Arm Exoskeleton. In tests, soldiers can be seen using it to aim an 18-pound light machine gun easily.
The third arm is made out of composite materials. It weighs less than four pounds, and it helps evenly distribute the weight of the weapon.
Soldiers used the exoskeleton to carry a 27-pound M240B machine gun in tests. The arm helps stabilize weapons, so the troops were in a better firing position after running or diving into position.
The Third Arm is still in the early stages of development, but it has become popular throughout the chain of command.
The prototype has proven that it can improve marksmanship and reduce fatigue, but the team at Aberdeen stresses that the arm is far from a finished product.
Next, the plan is to outfit the exoskeleton with heavier payloads and see how it can be improved for the soldier of the future.