We Must Not Allow a Mech Gap


Reader D.J. Schreffler has alerted me that the Russians recently unveiled the world’s first combat walker at the Army-2018 expo near Moscow. The bipedal mech, which bears more than a passing resemblance to ED-209, was exhibited by Kalashnikov. We’re not dealing with a bunch of weebs messing around in their garage. We’re talking about a world-renowned arms manufacturer with a serious military pedigree.

Looking like a giant egg on legs, Kalashnikov’s “controlled bipedal walker” was introduced at this week’s Army-2018 defense expo near Moscow. Kalashnikov says the “development of technologies” behind the walker will be demonstrated next year.

The walker features a cockpit for a human pilot, a pair of arms ending in pinchers, and enormous metal legs ending in ski-like feet. It has no obvious signs of weapons nor does it appear to be anything more than a nonworking mockup. Important details such as power plant, carrying capacity, and armor are all left unexplained.

Combat walkers, or just ‘mechs,’ have been a part of science fiction for decades. The most famous examples are the AT-ST scout walker from Star Wars, the Amplified Mobility Platform from Avatar, and the L5 Riesig from the game Battlefield 2142. Non-combat versions include the the Caterpillar P-5000 Powered Work Loader from Aliens.

Those are the most famous examples of mecha? Granting the AT-ST, Avatar may have shattered records, but it failed to make a lasting cultural impact. Ripley’s power loader from Aliens is popular, but it’s more like powered armor than a mech.

Have the Popular Mechanics staff never played Battletech? Have they never seen the world’s single most popular mecha franchise?

We must not allow a mech gap. Now, more than ever, we need #AGundam4Us.

NB: I note with some satisfaction that Kalashnikov’s mech is following the initial weaponless engineering template of the Work Frames from Combat Frame XSeed.

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