US Army seeks 'Iron Man' armor for commandos

Oct 12, 2013 by Dan De Luce
A general view of the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' "Iron Man 3" at the El Capitan Theatre on April 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California

US Army researchers are working on building hi-tech body armor that would give soldiers "superhuman strength" in a real-life version of the suit featured in "Iron Man" films.

The blueprint for the "revolutionary" Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) would include an exoskeleton to allow a soldier to carry heavy equipment, built-in computing power, beefed up protection to stop bullets and a system to monitor vital signs, officials said.

"Some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include advanced armor, situational awareness, command and control computers, power management systems, and enhanced mobility exoskeletons," according to a US Army statement issued last month.

US Special Operations Command, which oversees elite Navy SEAL and Army Ranger commandos, put out the call last month for research papers on potential technologies that a "smart" combat suit could incorporate.

The request for "white papers" will extend through September 2014, and then commanders and defense officials will weigh how to proceed while taking into account growing pressures on the Pentagon budget, said spokesman Roger Teel of the Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM.

The new combat armor might also employ "liquid armor," reminiscent of the "Terminator" films, though the technology is still in an early stage of development, Teel told AFP.

The liquid would transform into a solid if a magnetic or electrical charge was applied.

"There is a liquid armor that they are looking at developing," said Teel, adding that scientists at MIT were studying the idea. "It could possibly be turned on with a battery switch" to deflect gunfire, he said.

TALOS "is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection," according to an earlier statement from RDECOM.

In a crude animated demonstration video released by the army on how the combat suit might operate, a soldier in science fiction-inspired gear stands in a doorway as bullets bounce off at close range from an unidentified enemy.

While ominous music plays in the background, the words "to be continued..." flash upon the screen.

The project's acronym, TALOS, refers to the automaton of Greek mythology made of bronze that Zeus deploys to safeguard his lover Europa.

Despite previous weapons programs that came to little, officials say the technologies for the ambitious project are not out of reach, even if they sound more like the stuff of myth or movie.

The concept of providing virtual displays of battlefield forces in a soldier's helmet screen resembles similar efforts already underway for a sophisticated helmet for pilots flying the new F-35 fighter jet.

Reflecting advances in robotics and computing power, the TALOS suit is part of a trend in current research focusing on what defense industry experts call "man-machine interface," aiming to dramatically increase the capabilities of a single soldier.

Officials said the TALOS project is the brainchild of Admiral William McRaven, head of special operations command, who rose to prominence presiding over the Navy SEAL raid that killed Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.

"I'm very committed to this," McRaven told an industry conference in July. "I'd like that last operator that we lost to be the last operator we lose in this fight or the fight of the future, and I think we can get there."

As the proposed suit would draw on a range of technical disciplines, the military expects the project to be developed jointly by academia, government scientists and technology firms, officials said.

Special Operations command is "interested in receiving white papers from a wide variety of sources, not just traditional military industry but also from academia, entrepreneurs and laboratories capable of providing the design, construction and testing of TALOS related technologies," said James Geurts, acquisition executive for the command.

And officials said it was too early to offer any cost estimate.

Although defense officials acknowledge the project evokes comparisons to Tony Stark's superhero suit from the "Iron Man" movies, they note that no one is claiming the smart armor will enable soldiers to soar like a plane over cities.

"It's not going to fly. It's not going to be all that," Teel said. "But it's going to be special."

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User comments : 16

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Humpty
1.3 / 5 (15) Oct 12, 2013
Oh goody - the loony tunes empire of oppression makes more fuck ups.
Moebius
1 / 5 (12) Oct 12, 2013
As I expected, no mention of a power source. That's because the only source with enough power in a small enough package for a man sized suit is nuclear. Do we want small reactors to fall into the hands of terrorists? Even if they are deployed on a limited basis to special forces, it's inevitable that our enemies will get their hands on them. Of course, they could be made to self destruct but even that isn't 100% reliable and who wants to wear a ticking bomb?.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2013
TALOS resembles HALO.
http://www.youtub...a_player

-No coincidence I suppose. Militaries have been encouraging soldiers to play combat games as they are after all good practice. I saw a big hulking Moslem with the full beard wearing a Ghost Recon t shirt the other day. This makes me nervous. Probably his intent.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2013
More HALO
http://www.youtub...a_player

Morbius has been watching his terminator DVD again. Military weapons programs are often begun before all the tech is available with the understanding that it will be developed in tandem. We see this in many NASA programs. This is how cutting-edge systems can be produced.

Many systems such as the F111, M16, M1 abrams, are fielded before they are ready because of this, and augmented over time.
Milou
1.3 / 5 (14) Oct 12, 2013
Instead of investing how to fight a war try investing on having peace. It is much easier, less expensive, and smarter.
Gmr
2.5 / 5 (8) Oct 12, 2013
@Milou - honestly, this is one of the few ways remaining to get republican support for basic research funded by the federal government: if that research is done by defense contractors. NASA used to be in favor as a way to do this, until too many fanatics started going the anti-science route.
Agomemnon
1 / 5 (12) Oct 12, 2013
As I expected, no mention of a power source.

A lot of these systems are 'assuming' a power source close to nuclear-type power density.
I'm thinking a D-D, D-T neutron generator (properly done) should produce the power.
Moebius
1 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2013
More HALO
http://www.youtub...a_player

Morbius has been watching his terminator DVD again. Military weapons programs are often begun before all the tech is available with the understanding that it will be developed in tandem. We see this in many NASA programs. This is how cutting-edge systems can be produced.

Many systems such as the F111, M16, M1 abrams, are fielded before they are ready because of this, and augmented over time.


What, you think we aren't capable of making a small reactor now? Or do you know of even a possible alternative to nuclear for an iron man suit? Do you have any idea how much power a suit like that would need? It needs to be able to run with a couple hundred pounds of equipment, a 200 pound man, silently, for 20 to 30 miles as well as power on board equipment and air conditioning.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2013
Instead of investing how to fight a war try investing on having peace
You want peace? Then you will have to destroy the religion-based cultures which insist that their women do nothing but make babies until it kills them.

Until this happens we will be faced with escalating unrest throughout the third world, and the existential need to defend ourselves and our allies from the hordes of excess young males with nothing else to do but fight.
http://www.youtub...iBCIxjIk
http://www.youtub...BNkUEO-Q

http://www.youtub...5qzUaI8g
-Both sides think allah is on their side.

Religion makes war inevitable. It was designed that way. The religions which were best at this, are the only ones left.

There will never be peace until it disappears.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2013
cont>

""The Mediterranean cannot continue to be a mass grave for migrants," Maria Böhmer, who is responsible for refugee policy in the chancellery, was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper deutsche Zeitung. "All forces must be mobilized" and changes introduced "so that refugees no longer die in their rickety boats."
What, you think we aren't capable of making a small reactor now
What makes you think that little nukes will be the only option for power? We are set for a revolution in the production and storage of massive amounts of power.
do you know of even a possible alternative to nuclear for an iron man suit?
Not offhand and Im not in the mood at the moment to search around to see what people are working on. Why dont you give it a try.

Per the article the army is about to spend much time and effort and money to develop a suit. We can conclude that they have included the feasibility of an appropriate power source in their initial inquiry BECAUSE they are proceeding.
Captain Stumpy
1.3 / 5 (12) Oct 12, 2013
Per the article the army is about to spend much time and effort and money to develop a suit. We can conclude that they have included the feasibility of an appropriate power source in their initial inquiry BECAUSE they are proceeding.


given my experience I would have to agree. if they don't already HAVE it in miniature enough form, they probably have it and hope to miniaturize it.
210
1.3 / 5 (13) Oct 12, 2013
Instead of investing how to fight a war try investing on having peace. It is much easier, less expensive, and smarter.

Oh YEAH baby, peace love and all THAT...now....go over to Mr Assad in Syria, who does not want to allow his people an open and transparent VOTING opportunity, and sell him on your love and peace musical tour! Oh, Hosni Mubarak was such a peace loving man..his own people threw him out...and, and what about your pal Sodomy Hussein, poison gassed 5,000 registered voters....Oh, but you are right...we should NEVER get ready for a fight. Let's just sit down in a circle and sing songs and wish all the bad people to just go away! Iran talks peace and love at the UN while their generals RACE to finish uranium enrichment - go, Go tell them Iranians, 'Ya'll can have nuclear power, like Japan, Italy, France and plenty of others without WEAPONIZING the fuel.Funny, but, If not for Israel, Shiite would have wiped out Sunnis by now - go figure!
word-
210
1 / 5 (12) Oct 12, 2013


Religion makes war inevitable. It was designed that way. The religions which were best at this, are the only ones left.

There will never be peace until it disappears.

We did NOT have 1990-1991 Desert Storm because of Religion, no! We are currently BACKING INTO a major conflict due to the inordinate and unending hacking by China and Russia. Their weaponization of the web and their endless efforts to steal every iota of intellectual property in the free world, has the great potential of forcing a fight just to end a hack! One wrong click of a chinese mouse and you may need a fight to just allow civil aircraft to land! APT1 and the PLA's Comment Crew are daring the West to fight back. Right now they steal IP, but they are likewise able to change their hacking into a first strike weapon; Crippling infrastructure and the ability to respond to a military incursion into Taiwan or The Philippines - NONE of that is religion. Heck, one day we will fight over RICE! Not 'words.'
alfie_null
not rated yet Oct 13, 2013
Not much mention of cost. Or the effectiveness. Is the objective to be superior to your adversary, or to prevent harm to your own soldiers?

I'm imagining a future encounter, where after having gone to great effort to design and manufacture these suits (or whatever), and train and equip soldiers with them, we find the enemy develops inexpensive tactics that render the suits ineffective. It's impossible to anticipate everything, in all environments. With potential enemies also trying to do so,
pepe2907
1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2013
Yeah, military contracted research is one of the few remaining ways to spend a lot of money on questionable research without returning significant results for years and still not being fired /or sued/. :)
As much as I remember /from what I read, not the actual '60-es :)/ such suits, with Strontium reactors as energy sources were already in development in '60-es or '70-es.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Oct 14, 2013
we find the enemy develops inexpensive tactics that render the suits ineffective.


In an unrelated piece of news:
Terrorists are looking into handheld EMP generators, magnetic grenades, waterballon/taser combos and C-4 suicide quadcopters.