Army Lab Wants to Give Soldiers a Third Arm, Literally

(Original photo by Conrad Johnson, graphics by Code and Dagger)

(Original photo by Conrad Johnson, graphics by Code and Dagger)

You know what the U.S. military needs? More realistic training? More recruits? A fleet of really expensive dump trucks? Well, yes, arguably the military needs all those things. But the mad scientists at the Army Research Laboratory want something a little different: soldiers with three arms. Seriously.

Unfortunately they're not talking about using growth hormones to sprout another arm, Goro-style, from the ribs or something, but attaching a mechanical arm to a support belt to help soldiers carry heavy weapons like machine guns.

"It can help stabilize the weapon and take the load off of their arms," Army researcher Dan Baechle in a recent report from the Army Research Lab. "It's made from composite materials to make it as light as possible, but also to ensure the range of motion that soldiers need."

Baechle says the arm has been tested with two types of machine guns. One, the M240B, weighs 27 pounds, but with the third arm, Baechle said the weight can be totally supported by the new arm.

"Right now it's a prototype device, and it's a fairly early stage prototype device," he said. "It's been getting a lot of interest higher up in the Army, but also online with some of the stories that have come out. We're using some of the interest to help motivate further development of the device."

Read: Army Researchers Envision Third Arm for Soldiers (

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