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    John D Salt

    A piece in this week’s “New Scientist” mentions that “The average soldier is carrying roughly twenty pounds (9 kg) of body armour and eighteen pounds (8 kg) of batteries in the field” according to Gabriel Veith of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN. His team have experimented with adding silica nanoparticles to battery electrolyte, making in shear-thickening (negatively thixotropic, like ooblick or ketchup) and therefore more resistant to bullet impacts.

    For that combined weight of body armour and batteries, 17 kg, one could carry instead an L4 Bren with 6 full magazines, with a Mk IV steel helmet, and still have half a kilo left over for ten Mars bars. Or you could carry helmet, SLR, six mags, two grenades, and a 66mm rocket launcher.

    I am astonished at the figure of 8 kg for batteries for the average soldier, and would have thought it excessive for a regimental signaller. What on earth do you need all those batteries for? Comms, OK, TI, OK, but a quick google tells me I can have the ATNI MARS-HD 384 1.25-5x for a mere £1,715, and the whole thing is less than a kilo — for batteries it uses 4 AAs. The heaviest (rechargeable) AA batteries seem to be a mere 31g, so 8 kg would let you carry over 250 of them.

    Apart from a rear-link radio, the only thing I can think of that would need enough electrical power output to demand more than AA batteries, at least until they start issuing tasers or beam weapons, is ECM, and I would have thought that you would not bother with that in “big people’s war”.

    All the best,



    But if you can make your batteries bullet proof and distribute them about your torso, then you can save the 9kg of body armour for even more Mars bars.  Which reminds me, on exercise I would fill my respirator case with chocolate.  This was because it was the only item of kit which fastened using Velcro.  Consequently it was both more secure and easier to open and close than webbing or pockets.

    Less enthusiasm, please. This is Britain.


    Hi John,

    See here for US tech kit (without ECM).  Seems to be in-line with the New Scientist article.

    Here is the current Brit kit list.  If you add the missing comms and ECM kit back in, then it does seem to reach the weights that soldiers were actually carrying.

    All the best






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