Putting Iron Man on the front line of US defense?
“I am here to announce that we are building Iron Man.” This is what President Obama told the media at an innovation summit last year. “This has been a secret project we have been working on for a long time. Not really. Maybe. It’s classified.”
The US military is closer than ever to putting Iron Man on the front lines of the US army. Or at least, something that closely mirrors the superhero’s suit of armor. It is developing an advanced military suit: TALOS, or Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit. It is designed to protect the lives of soldiers on the fron lines, especially those who lead the army in a mission.
The idea came from Adm. Bill McRaven, when a US soldier under his command died during a raid in Afghanistan, after the soldier kicked in a door. The top commander vowed to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the US Special Operations took over the TALOS program that was launched by Adm. McRaven. The goal: “To give that operator the advantage when he is most vulnerable” (Votel).
Compared to Tony Stark’s suit, TALOS is a liquid armor that can soldify when it is hit by a bullet. However, it will not be able to fly or be guided by JARVIS, although the in-helmet technologies improve visibility and provide better communication with the troop. Nanotechnology was applied to produce this adaptive liquid material. The suit also monitors the wearer’s health, such as heart rate and body temperature.
The TALOS program has churned out several prototypes, it is aiming to deliver a first-generation suit by August, 2018.
How much will this cool tech eventually cost? A 2014 article by Defense Tech reports a budget of $80 million into R&D of TALOS, but it may cost even hundreds of millions more dollars to perfect the technology before it is used on the battlefield.