SOCOM plans to test Iron Man suit by 2018
The top weapons buyer for U.S. Special Operations Command said Wednesday that the so-called Iron Man suit being developed for elite commandos may not end up being the exoskeleton armored ensemble popular in adventure movies.
It’s been four years since SOCOM leaders challenged the defense industry to come up with ideas for the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS — an ensemble that would provide operators with “more-efficient, full-body ballistics protection and beyond-optimal human performance” as well as embedded sensors and communications tech for heightened situational awareness.
Program officials are about “a year and a half” away from having a TALOS prototype that’s ready to put in the hands of operators for testing, James “Hondo” Geurts, acquisition executive and director for SOF AT&l at USSOCOM, told an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium.
When the program began, it captured the public’s imagination and conjured images of high-tech ensembles worn in movies such as “Man of Steel,” “Pacific Rim” and “Starship Troopers.”
“We are on our fifth prototype,” Geurts said. “Will we get everything we want? Probably not. That was never the intent.”
SOCOM officials envisioned TALOS would feature integrated heaters and coolers to regulate the temperature inside the suit. Embedded sensors would monitor the operator’s core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels. In the event that the operator is wounded, the suit could feasibly start administering the first life-saving oxygen or hemorrhage controls.
This is not the first time the U.S. military has embarked on an effort to perfect smart-soldier technology. The Army is now equipping combat units with a secure, smartphone-based kit — known as Nett Warrior — that allows a leader to track subordinates’ locations in relation to his own position via icons on a digital map. The unit leaders can view satellite imagery and send text messages.
The technology has seen combat and given leaders a precise view of their tactical environment, empowering units to operate more decisively than ever before.
But the program’s success did not come easily. Land Warrior, the first generation of this computerized command-and-control ensemble, was plagued by failure. From its launch in 1996, the Army spent $500 million on three major contract awards before the system’s reliability problems were solved in 2006.
When TALOS began, SOCOM said it planned to funnel $80 million into research and development over a four-year timeline. Geurts did not say how much money SOCOM has spent so far on TALOS.
One of the biggest challenges is powering the suit, but also a type of control theory and deep learning, Geurts said.
In just walking, “we take for granted that when we put our arm out, that our foot is behind us to balance it,” he said.
Geurts said the program has had “tremendous hurdles” working with these technologies, but said the effort will likely result in spin-off technologies that can be fielded to operators before TALOS is operationally ready.
“So in TALOS, don’t just think exoskeleton and armor — think of the whole equation,” he said. “Survivability is part of what armor you are carrying, but it’s also a big part of whatever information you have, what is your situational awareness, how do you communicate. So as we are going down all those paths, we can leverage quickly some of the stuff that is ready to go right now.”
- 'Drunk On Power': Did Marine Drill Instructor Torment Muslim Recruits?
- Navy Sailor Charged with Second-Degree Murder in Norfolk
- Pilot Who Ejected in April Hornet Mishap Was Senior Navy Officer
- Air Force: Racial Slurs Written by Black Cadet Candidate
- General Mistreated Congressional Staffer, Army Finds
- Bin Laden Files Back Up US Claims on Iran Ties to Al-Qaida
Follow @Militarydotcom on Twitter .
A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
A Marine deployed to a recon battalion in Vietnam wanted a perspective on the locals. So he checked a book out from the base library... for half a century.
This musician made a music video with the SEAL who killed bin Laden
Tim Montana is a musician with a “rip-roaring, swamp’rockin’ vibe” — and he’s just getting started. The coolest thing about him? He loves helping vets.
This is what the Army's 'Iron Men of Metz' and Attila the Hun have in common
The Iron Men of Metz did what only Attila the Hun could do some 1,500 years before: capture the heavily fortified city of Metz and force the enemy out.
5 terribly hilarious gifts to scuff up a basic trainee
Why not show that you truly care about your young recruit by also helping their trainers mess with them? Get in on the fun! Be creative.
The MARSOC driving course is not like your typical day at the DMV
These Marines continuously train to keep their skills sharp and take pride in being the best at all ends of the spectrum — including tactical driving.
7 more phrases old school veterans can't stop saying — and we love it
We love our old-school veterans that don't have a problem speaking their minds. They have some humorous sayings that we still use to this day.
This Army nurse's epic fight for a memorial for women Vietnam veterans
Some 11,000 women served in Vietnam, many as nurses and many under hostile fire. They had to fight to have their memorial built on the National Mall.
5 tips to prepare potential boots to join the military
No matter which branch you're thinking of joining, these mental and physical tips will help you be ready for when you're staring at a smoky bear hat.
6 reasons the Air Force wants to get its hands on Russian DNA
Ankle bone connected to the shin bone, shin bone connected to the knee bone, knee bone connected to a Russian, Air Force wants to get his genome.