I had did one for a jungle civilization How would a jungle dwelling civilization utilize powered armor efficiently? , so I decided to do another one, but this one for desert dwellers. Since desert planets are possible, I decided to see how they would work in a desert world civilization.

Please note that the planet isn't entirely made up of deserts, it's just that a vast majority of the planet is desert with water sources in short supply (there are rivers, oases, small landlocked seas and lakes, and one very massive ocean). There are massive mountain ranges though, but much of the planet is desert.

Now, the armors would be used by both rank and file and elite soldiers, with the elites getting more advanced armor variants, while special forces units get specialized variants to be used based on the operations they're conducting. So the suits would be for defensive, offensive, and covert operations.

We're going off the assumption that the civilization doesn't want to damage their environments too much (they're not going to blow up their enemies with nuclear weapons! Sorry Heinlein!), but things like heavy artillery is acceptable.

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    $\begingroup$ There is no way for a civilization to reach the stage where it can even dream of developing powered armor and still be confined to one specific type of terrain. Think of the oldest civilizations here on Earth: by the time the Romans got to the point where they had a professional army they had expanded waaaaay beyond their original type of terrain (the fertile plain of Latium). You cannot have civilization which consists of "canyon dwellers", for example, and has evolved to the point where powered armor is even imaginable. (And I count seven questions in this one question.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 8 '20 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ Civilisation never evolved in deserts. Very often deserts were the result of environmental destruction caused by civilisations who didn't understand the effect they were having.. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Jul 8 '20 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ 1-Actual fighting happens around strategic places. Like cities, factories, passes...etc. So unless you have a city in the middle of a desert then your soldiers need to be equipped to fight where the important stuff are. 2-Sun powered if possible. Only if to support the main reactor. 3-Transportation is more important if the place is big enough. Develop trains, or something, to deploy your soldiers and the desert aspect won't matter, because bases! 4-Special forces is what you are looking for. Covert desert operations to sabotage the enemy stuff, supply lines, communication towers..etc. $\endgroup$ – Seallussus Jul 8 '20 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ As several recent examples show conclusively, the best powered armor for fighting in a desert is a main battle tank. As the same examples show even more conclusively, any kind of powered armor is helpless in a desert against attack aircraft, helicopters, rocket powered missiles and such. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 8 '20 at 19:09
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    $\begingroup$ I think we need some more information on the limits of the technology of the civilization. The selected answer points out the lack of cover in the dessert as disqualifying for power armor. But given that we are talking about a sci-fi setting, maybe personal shields are available that makes this a non-issue. This detail aside, what are your power source limitations, your weapon capabilities? Would soldiers in power armor be fighting alone or with artillery/vehicle/aerial support? $\endgroup$ – Chebi Jul 9 '20 at 15:40

well. there isn't much I can say to add to my last answer to your other question. And power armor is going to be fodder to the enemy. they'd be far easier to spot, and the reason they'd not cause much in the way of collateral damage is because the enemy would have blown them away long before they would have become a threat.

I been around the block as a paramilitary contractor, and there is no cover on a desert plain. You're totally exposed to enemy fire. Just ask the Iraqi tankers during the first and second gulf war how much cover and protection the desert gave them from enemy fire.

from what I've concluded about power armor, it's only something that works on paper and in media, but not so much in practice.

and now to say why.

if they were viable, the US army and USMC would already be using them. And the fact such platforms are absent in world militaries reinforces the fact the are not viable. And it's even more so for Paramilitary Corporations (PMC) like Black Water, Triple Canopy, and my own PMC to adopt their use.

unlike a national military who operates of public funding from the their government, a PMC is a corporation, and like every other corporation, is required by law to turn a profit for our share holders to continue to exist. a PMC is very unlikely to adopt something like power armor as it's not a known quantity, and is highly likely to be a net loss of company assets---both human and material. and we rely on reputation to secure contracts from individuals, companies, and world governments.

so the answer to the burning question is power armor will not be used in deserts. I was there in such an environment, and it's no place for such a platform.

  • $\begingroup$ That makes sense. Powered armor might be more useful in urban environments and maybe jungles, and maybe just maybe icy conditions (although as anti-tank snipers, but then again, I think those already exist and they don't use powered armor). $\endgroup$ – SCPilot Jul 8 '20 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ a light tanks or an unmanned tank is a better choice. also, if you want something that walks on two legs, a battledoid is far superior to power armor. I was amazed that in the Halo franchise that with already existing AI, why didn't they just use a drone army and a navy of droid warships against the Covenant? a Droid can have far more armor added to it than a suit, plus a droid is expendable whereas a human isn't. that's how I would have fought the Covenant as the UNSC anyways. $\endgroup$ – Mr. Anderson Jul 8 '20 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's because of the Three Laws of Robotics that prevented the UNSC from using AI weapons...I think. My knowledge of UNSC tech is a bit rusty. But yeah tanks and unmanned tanks might be a better choice in a desert environment. $\endgroup$ – SCPilot Jul 8 '20 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ yeah, as a real soldier, i know one thing about any equipment, the ugly part of it, and that's vehicle maintenance and recovery. say you have your power armor, it breaks down, then what? you'll have a hapless soldier that's then prey for a sniper or a designated marksman. $\endgroup$ – Mr. Anderson Jul 8 '20 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah that comes up a lot in fiction actually. $\endgroup$ – SCPilot Jul 8 '20 at 23:17



It is hot in the jungle, and sticky. Sweaty and glistening, mm, yes. Your warriors will want - nay, demand - to strip down. Then when the bugs come, or the Predator with infra vision, your warriors will want to bedaub themselves and one another with primitive jungle pigments. Thus it goes with Jungle War.

But running and warring thru the jungle naked except for mud risks injury to the junk, especially if it is hot and your warriors are male. Nakedness also risks raised eyebrows from viewers who are OK with an R rating for gore and mutilation but who tremble to see naked parts. In addition to addressing these protective functions, the power shorts can serve a Batbelt kind of function to keep jungle war supplies handy. And I daresay they are a menacing and warlike look.

Power Tankini coming soon!

  • $\begingroup$ This is hilarious. All I could think of now is something like when the final battle happens the shorts plasma reactor will fail and the protagonist has to take off his shorts They are also penetrating the enemy mountain stronghold from a back hole in the ground. and he looks all serious saying: We have to go deep. We will boldly thrust ourselves into their back, to penetrate the darkness where none dared to venture. It will be a hard ordeal full of sweat and agony. But we have to take heart and be the hard men we were always meant to be. Deeper into the whole! $\endgroup$ – Seallussus Jul 8 '20 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Seallussus - I appreciate your enthusiasm but people might get the wrong idea... $\endgroup$ – Willk Jul 8 '20 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ Ummm - Have you read the question? This is about deserts not jungles! $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Jul 8 '20 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Dang I thought it was the jungle one I had seen earlier. Well, power shorts would be even better in the desert. Different camo body paint of course. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jul 8 '20 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ you do have one point though: how nonviable power armor really is. power armor is one of those things that only looks good on paper. Being a PMC myself, I can say it's something just about nobody will have in active use. $\endgroup$ – Mr. Anderson Jul 8 '20 at 19:50

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