The US military is hoping to create a prototype of an “Iron Man suit” installed with the most up-to-date gear within 12 months. Bullet-proof, shrapnel-proof, and having the ability to download and see live video feeds from nearby drones are exactly what the Pentagon wants the suit to be able to do. Tiny screens inside of the exoskeleton suit would allow a solider to do things like run and jump without any problems, all while carrying 100 pounds or more of army equipment.
Bionic limbs, armor which covers the entire body, and up-to-date technology allowing data feeds on the inside of the helmet is what the suit is expected to have. “We’re taking the Iron Man concept and bringing it closer to reality,” said Brian Dowling, referring to the Marvel Comics character Tony Stark, an industrialist and top engineer who creates a rocket-powered exoskeleton, transforming into a superhero.
© Screenshot: LA Times/ Lorena Iñiguez Elebee
The Special Operations Command began scouting for ideas for the specialized suit this year from all sectors, such as education, government labs, and industry. It has had two meetings where possible bidders, including the company Dowling works for called Revision Military, gave a demo presentation of their products.
Military officials say they are trying to produce a working prototype within the next 12 months. However, no contracts have been inked yet and the Pentagon has not disclosed let alone set an estimated cost.
The suit would also have an oxygen tank on it, in case a soldier encountered poisonous gas. In addition, a cooling system would be set up. “They want an Iron Man-like suit; they’ve been quite open about that,” said Adarsh Ayyar, an engineer at BAE Systems, one of the defense contractors seeking to build a working exoskeleton prototype, “You won’t get all of it. It’s not going to fly. But I think it’s doable.”
The project’s past name pays tribute to Iron Man as it was so rightfully titled the “tactical assault light operator suit”, or TALOS for short. Talos was actually a larger than life bronze warrior in Greek mythological tales who protected over the island of Crete from invading troops.
However, some specialists question if the project displays a sense of misunderstandings of the lessons in the past decade of war, as US troops, even though geared with top notch weapons, were dueled to a draw in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“When the U.S. military entered the global war on terror, it was infatuated with technology and believed that it wins wars,” said Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who now, as a professor, is critical of the most recent wars, “The experience in Iraq and Afghanistan ought to have destroyed any such expectation, but this [project] suggests it is still true.”
During a conference, the TALOS suit was the center of discussion for executives in the defense industry as well as engineers. Admiral William McRaven, a Navy SEAL and head of the Special Operations Command, urged the people at the conference to think about a special operations soldier preparing to assault a house.
“He has to open that door not knowing what’s on the other side,” McRaven said, “He’s got to be able to shoot, move and communicate. He’s got to be able to survive in that environment.… If we invest in the TALOS suit, it will reduce the operation’s risks and therefore the operation’s costs.”
Numerous defense contractors are hoping that they are chosen to create the ultimate suit for a soldier on the battlefield. “The Iron Man movies got it right: Power is the Achilles’ heel with all these devices,” said Russ Angold, founder of California company Ekso Bionics, that is building a power-saving exoskeleton that it hopes the Special Operations Command will choose.
source: voice of Russia