High-Tech Infantry Equipment German Robocop-Style Army Gear Flops With Soldiers

The German army has been raving about its new state-of-the-art €20,000-per-soldier infantry equipment called "Infantryman of the Future." But the soldiers who have been trying it out in the field say it's too bulky, too heavy and unreliable.


German infantrymen parading in their new high-tech gear
DDP

German infantrymen parading in their new high-tech gear

Germany's soldiers have been complaining about new state-of-the-art infantry equipment the army has introduced at the cost of €20,000 ($29,700) per soldier, and which commanders back at headquarters have been hailing as a "forward leap in quality."

It comprises body armor, a mini-computer, protective goggles, radio units and new weapons. But soldiers who have used the equipment in the field during their mission in Afghanistan have complained that it is too heavy and limits the soldiers' agility and performance, especially at high temperatures.

The protective vest is so bulky that soldiers have to squat "in extreme discomfort" in their vehicles and have trouble getting in and out of the vehicles, according to internal army reports based on the soldiers' experience with the new gear during their tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The protective goggles aren't usable because they steam up even with "light sweating" and provide virtually no protection from headwind.

The mini-computer, intended to give infantrymen accurate orientation with the help of satellite navigation and electronic maps, has too little memory and partly provides unreliable information, the soldiers say. The radio equipment doesn't have enough range and the earpiece "constantly" falls out, they say.

One exasperated commander has recommended that the army replace key components such as the navigation equipment with "more user-friendly, commercially available products." That would significantly improve fighting capabilities while saving money at the same time, he said.

SPIEGEL Staff

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