ORLANDO, Fl. -- On Nov. 4, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Soldier Center, a team from the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, or LMMFCO, and supporting contractors, kicked off an Other Transactions Agreement for Prototype, or OTA-P, of the exoskeleton trademarked under the name ONYX.

The ONYX, licensed from B-Temia Inc., of Quebec, Canada, was originally demonstrated as a futuristic concept by special units in partnership with the RDECOM Soldier Center in 2013. Working closely with LMMFCO, the RDECOM Soldier Center can now focus on incorporating Army user needs into the new functional prototypes with full focus on Soldier experience and mission effectiveness. The agreement will advance the state of exoskeleton technologies for Soldiers.

The RDECOM Soldier Center and Lockheed teams have a capable, responsive, and highly motivated multidisciplinary group of professionals to quickly and effectively shift design changes needed by the Army users into the baseline system design.

"We stand ready to support NSRDEC's mission to maximize Soldier lethality and endurance," said Keith Maxwell, exoskeleton technologies program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Innovative exoskeleton technologies like ONYX can improve human performance, reduce fatigue and help Soldiers accomplish their mission."

"We are heading out to engage users in their operational environments and prioritize those tasks where the Soldier can benefit the most from these technologies," said David Audet, branch chief of NSRDEC's Mission Equipment and Systems Branch, or ME&SB. "Furthermore, we owe our Soldiers the benefit of exploring these capabilities under their terms and conditions. We are confident that products such as ONYX will offer options they currently don't have. It is our mission to vet the capabilities and deliver."

Subcontractors such as B-Temia, Inc., and other team members, participated in the kick-off prior to their next stop -- observing users during training. The line-up includes the 10th Mountain Division, 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, and follow up with requirement developers. ME&SB are pushing the envelope in an aggressive timetable, gearing up for a 2019 user demonstration.

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The U.S. Army Soldier Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.