Bonus points if you get it to land on his nose. Illustration by Kenna Milaski/Coffee or Die Magazine.
As the Pentagon shifts priorities to prepare for future threats, two recent Army Research Lab studies suggest Beast Wars could be the way of America’s future. The Army is apparently taking another crack at modernizing its force by (checks notes) putting legs on tanks and creating cyborg vehicles.
The first study found strong similarities between artificial and biological locomotion, suggesting that optimally designed legs could work as efficiently as wheels or tracks. In the second study, a biohybrid robotics team studied the plausibility of combining live muscle, ligaments, and tendons with machines to transfer the ease of movement that organic life-forms possess to mechanical vehicles.
Looking at these studies, one might wonder, “Have the mad scientists at the Army Research Lab never seen RoboCop, Terminator, or any sci-fi movie ever?” We’re guessing the answer is no, but if the Army wants to replace tanks and other types of equipment with mechanized beasts and cyborgs, we have some recommendations.
Here are 10 military mech concepts we hope to see on the battlefield soon.
Straight out of a mefloquine nightmare, imagine the psychological impact to an enemy patrol of an M1 Abrams with organic spider legs springing out of the ground like a trapdoor spider and dragging their comrades to their demises. This spider mech would also be able to weave webs of Kevlar for snagging enemy aircraft and would feature anti-rolled-up-newspaper armor plating.
The military’s greatest challenge wouldn’t be creating one; it would be keeping Marines from replacing the wiper fluid with piss and drawing dicks all over it.
Strap mechanical butterfly wings to an M67 frag grenade, and you’ve got a very pretty way to blow up the enemy. Bonus points if it lands on their noses, like in Bambi.
Strap machine legs and hydraulic pump teats onto a classic water buffalo for a dramatic improvement on the original design. This advanced cyborg will trot to you when called and can provide up to 60 gallons of water per minute from any one of its pressurized teats. On the downside, grunts will undoubtedly attempt to drink directly from the teats (and there’s about an 80% chance Marines will try to have sex with this thing). On the upside, keeping them hydrated will be less of a challenge.
Strip the A-10 down to its legendary cannon and build it back up with a mechanized bald eagle body with the cannon in its mouth. Engineer the big gun to scream like an eagle before it unleashes its oh-so-satisfying BRRRRT of devastation on the enemy. This might be the most American thing ever conceived. You’re welcome.
Retrofit a Howitzer with state-of-the-art synthetic ostrich legs, and you’ve got a cannon that can put a 155 mm round on a target up to 14 miles away and then quickly maneuver to a new position at 43 mph (an ostrich’s top speed). It also can lay a 3-pound “egg” of C4 and self-camouflage by sticking its head in the sand.
Inspired by the legendary Power Llama, the Combat Llama would be a completely mechanized, up-armored, quadrupedal infantry mech sporting two forward-facing Mk-19 grenade launchers, a rear-mounted M240, mine-resistant hooves, steel teeth, napalm spit, night vision, and a subscription to Sirius XM.
This would just be an M134 Minigun with biosynthetic grizzly bear legs. Need I say more? You can run, but you’ll die tired.
Hippos are widely considered one of the deadliest animals in the world. Responsible for more deaths than lions are each year, hippos weigh several tons and can still move at speeds up to 30 mph. Throw the heavy weapons of an SWCC boat onto the back of a 30,000-pound pissed-off hippo cyborg, and you’ve got one hell of a support vehicle.
Imagine if an AC-130 could pick up large numbers of troops without stopping. If it had a gigantic sea gull head, it could. Patent pending, Army. If you want to develop this idea, you’re going to have to pay us.
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Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.
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