US Air Force Wants To Wear Computers (After Army Took Them Off)
For 20 years, the US Army tried to link soldiers together by outfitting them with computers strapped to their bodies. Repeated failures led it to finally scrap the idea last fall. Weirdly, the Air Force wants to pick up where the Army unsuccessfully left off.
On Monday, the Air Force asked its friends in the defense industry if they could produce a “wearable computer” suit, complete with peripherals tethered to airmen’s body armor. That sounds a lot like the Army’s old, ill-fated plans for its “Nett Warrior” communications system.
The Air Force hasn’t formally asked businesses to submit bids. But it’s asking about the feasibility of businesses providing it a system with a “sunlight readable touch screen” and a “tactile keyboard,” hooked up to radios through USB cables. It should possess “load carriage technology to transfer weight load from the shoulders of the operator to the lower body” — probably a relief, since it’ll have to carry “ballistic plates in the front, rear, and both sides.” It should run Windows 7 and higher.
But if the Air Force wanted to know how realistic such a system is, it might just have asked its brothers in the Army. The answer it would have heard: not very.