TAMPA, Florida — Dial down the godawful soundtrack and try to ignore the choppy camera work, but re-watch Lockheed Martin’s promo video depicting its two-year-old Human Universal Load Carrier exoskeleton. Because inside of the year, an improved version of this combat exoskeleton could be headed to Afghanistan for combat trials. That’s right: cyborg soldiers might, might just be months away from becoming a front-line reality.
At least, that’s what a Lockheed rep indicated today at a Special Forces trade show in Tampa. Asked if there were plans to deploy the HULC exoskeleton overseas following its next round of Army testing, Lockheed’s special operation program manager Keith Maxwell nodded yes and said, “after that.”
Maxwell was wearing what he described as a “smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient” version of the battery-powered external skeleton, complete with an unloaded machine gun on a pivoting mechanical arm. He asked us not to photograph the exoskeleton, but he was happy to discuss it.