#1 Posted by frogdog (3640 posts) - - Show Bio

The U.S. military wants to produce within 12 months a prototype of a protective 'Iron Man suit' packed with the latest communications gear.

WASHINGTON — Army Capt. Brian Dowling was leading his Special Forces team through a steep mountain pass in eastern Afghanistan when insurgents ambushed his patrol, leaving two of his soldiers pinned down with life-threatening wounds.

After a furious firefight, the two men were rescued, but that episode in 2006 would change Dowling's life.

Now employed by a small defense company, he is part of a crash effort by U.S. Special Operations Command to produce a radically new protective suit for elite soldiers to wear into battle — one with bionic limbs, head-to-toe armor, a built-in power supply and live data feeds projected on a see-through display inside the helmet.

They call it — what else? — the "Iron Man suit."

"We're taking the Iron Man concept and bringing it closer to reality," said Dowling, referring to the Marvel Comics character Tony Stark, an industrialist and master engineerwho builds a rocket-powered exoskeleton, turning himself into a superhero.

The Special Operations Command began soliciting ideas for the suit this year from industry, academia and government labs, and has held two conferences where potential bidders, including Dowling's company, Revision Military, demonstrated their products. Military officials say they are trying to produce a working prototype within the next 12 months. But no contracts have been signed, and the Pentagon has not ventured to make a cost estimate.

The metal suit the Pentagon wants would be all but impervious to bullets and shrapnel, and be able to continuously download and display live video feeds from overhead drones. Relying on tiny motors, the exoskeleton would enable a soldier to run and jump without strain while carrying 100 or more pounds.

It would, at least in theory, be able to stanch minor wounds with inflatable tourniquets — in the unlikely event the armor is breached. It also would carry a built-in oxygen supply in case of poison gas, a cooling system to keep soldiers comfortable and sensors to transmit the wearer's vital signs back to headquarters.

"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."

Even the project's formal name is an homage to Iron Man. It's the "tactical assault light operator suit," or TALOS, the giant bronze warrior of Greek mythology who defended, not always successfully, the island of Crete from invaders.

Some experts question whether the project represents a misunderstanding of the lessons of the last dozen years of war, when U.S. soldiers, despite being equipped with technology and weaponry far beyond anything their enemies possessed, were dueled to a virtual draw in 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 Boston University professor, is critical of recent wars. "The experience in Iraq and Afghanistan ought to have destroyed any such expectation, but this [project] suggests it is still true."

Armored suits, of course, go back to ancient times. The updated model may sound outlandish, but with its super-sized budgets, the Pentagon has a history of developing cutting-edge technology — drones, stealth aircraft, precision-guided missiles and global positioning satellites, to name a few — that transformed the battlefield and the world.

An animated video produced this year by the Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command shows a soldier fully encased in heavy armor running down a narrow alley in a mud-walled village that could be Iraq or Afghanistan. Behind a huge wooden door unseen bad guys await, only the barrels of their four AK-47s visible.

Suddenly the soldier — who oddly isn't carrying a weapon — smashes through the door and stands menacingly as dozens of rounds bounce harmlessly off his suit and helmet.

The screen fades to black. "To be continued …," it says.

At least part of the scenario is real. This month, Navy SEALs raided a compound along the coast of Somalia on a mission to capture a leader of the terrorist group Shabab. But they were forced to retreat to their boats and abandon the mission when they came under heavy gunfire.

Describing the TALOS suit at a conference of engineers and defense executives in Tampa, Fla., in August, Adm. William McRaven, a Navy SEAL and head of the Special Operations Command, urged them 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."

How much of this is Hollywood and how much is truly possible is uncertain, designers acknowledge. There is no prototype, only a smorgasbord of ideas and off-the-shelf components that still need to be combined into a suit for actual combat.

"I don't think we'll solve every one of these goals immediately," says James Guerts, the head of acquisition for the Special Operations Command. "But we want to always be out ahead of technology."

The key, designers and officials involved say, is to make a suit that provides better protection than the heavy armored vests and Kevlar helmets that soldiers already wear, without being so bulky that it prevents them from moving in combat.

To make it work, designers need a battery to power the exoskeleton, the communications gear and the data stream. Too big a battery weighs down the suit, too small and it could run out of juice in the middle of a mission. In the movies, Iron Man is powered by a fictional "arc reactor" stuck in Tony Stark's chest, but it sometimes falters and sends him tumbling to Earth.

"The Iron Man movies got it right: Power is the Achilles' heel with all these devices," said Russ Angold, founder of Ekso Bionics, a company in Richmond, Calif., that is developing a power-saving exoskeleton that it hopes the Special Operations Command will choose.

Dozens of defense contractors are eager to claim a piece of a potentially lucrative new Pentagon contract, just like in the Iron Man movies.

Raytheon Co. was so eager to show its product that it sent the military a video featuring Clark Gregg, the actor who plays Agent Phil Coulson in those movies, trying out its intimidating-looking exoskeleton at the company's Utah test lab.

"This is the closest thing we have right now to the Iron Man suit," Gregg says on the video. "That it's becoming real this quickly is kind of remarkable."

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-...,2263878.story

SMH

#2 Edited by Wolverine08 (45992 posts) - - Show Bio

Dope.

#3 Posted by PowerHerc (85517 posts) - - Show Bio

Sure they do. Why wouldn't they?

#4 Edited by Cezar_TheScribe (2616 posts) - - Show Bio

Because that's what we need. :/

#5 Edited by Manchine (4185 posts) - - Show Bio

We will have to mass produce this (see video above) before we can produce a real iron man suit.


#6 Posted by RisingBean (4978 posts) - - Show Bio

This idea or something like it has been on the drawing board for a long, long time.

#7 Posted by Aiden Cross (15526 posts) - - Show Bio

It's still not going to fly...

#8 Posted by PeppeyHare (4310 posts) - - Show Bio

We all want an Iron Man suit

#9 Posted by AllStarSuperman (23259 posts) - - Show Bio

This idea or something like it has been on the drawing board for a long, long time.

yup, they should make the suits more Mass Effecty then Ironman:

#10 Edited by AweSam (7390 posts) - - Show Bio

The U.S. is screwed if Japan starts building Gundams.

#11 Posted by RisingBean (4978 posts) - - Show Bio

@allstarsuperman: That bottom pic, Iron Man in ME. I approve. The problem with ME though is the tech is more fiction then science currently. The military has some things in it's pocket that don't quite rely on force fields.

The biggest thing would be keeping the climate controls working in my opinion. I spent some time in a Bradley in the heat and it sucks. Army doesn't care about comfort.

#12 Posted by AllStarSuperman (23259 posts) - - Show Bio

@risingbean: yeah I just mean it should look like Mass effect. they have some of the coolest suits imo.

#13 Edited by RisingBean (4978 posts) - - Show Bio

@allstarsuperman: Oh, indeed they do. Mass Effect is nothing if not stylish.

Edit: @manchine Nice video. A few issues. It looks easy to hack into, the waterballoon launcher that will hit it's target "some of the time" doesn't inspire confidence and smiling is what allows you to open fire. Wow. I hope nothing good or funny happens while a user is piloting that thing.

For example. Call comes in. Pilot answers. "Hello." Voice: Your wife has delivered your kid. It's a boy." Pilot smiles and kills a family of six.

It's a terrible operating system!

#14 Posted by Gambit474 (1570 posts) - - Show Bio

If I recall the problem with making an IM suit has to do with the amount of energy it'd need to fly

#15 Posted by _Zombie_ (10471 posts) - - Show Bio

Am I the only one imagining the scene from IM2 where Tony shows the failed copycat suits?

@awesam said:

The U.S. is screwed if Japan starts building Gundams.

They technically did. Not functional, but it's still pretty awesome.

#16 Posted by AweSam (7390 posts) - - Show Bio
@_zombie_ said:
@awesam said:

The U.S. is screwed if Japan starts building Gundams.

They technically did. Not functional, but it's still pretty awesome.

That's what they want you to think.

#17 Posted by _Zombie_ (10471 posts) - - Show Bio

@awesam said:
@_zombie_ said:
@awesam said:

The U.S. is screwed if Japan starts building Gundams.

They technically did. Not functional, but it's still pretty awesome.

That's what they want you to think.

Well, it's not functional yet.

#18 Posted by AweSam (7390 posts) - - Show Bio

@_zombie_ said:

@awesam said:
@_zombie_ said:
@awesam said:

The U.S. is screwed if Japan starts building Gundams.

They technically did. Not functional, but it's still pretty awesome.

That's what they want you to think.

Well, it's not functional yet.

That's what they want you to think.

#19 Posted by Manchine (4185 posts) - - Show Bio

@allstarsuperman: Oh, indeed they do. Mass Effect is nothing if not stylish.

Edit: @manchine Nice video. A few issues. It looks easy to hack into, the waterballoon launcher that will hit it's target "some of the time" doesn't inspire confidence and smiling is what allows you to open fire. Wow. I hope nothing good or funny happens while a user is piloting that thing.

For example. Call comes in. Pilot answers. "Hello." Voice: Your wife has delivered your kid. It's a boy." Pilot smiles and kills a family of six.

It's a terrible operating system!

Its also not truly militaristic. It shoots BB and waterballoons. obviously this wasn't on a huge military budget. If it was you know it would be a lot more lethal. On that same note if nonmilitary can do this just think how far ahead the military is? How many more years until we see a mech on the battlefield?

#20 Posted by Joygirl (19985 posts) - - Show Bio

I WANT ONE.

#21 Posted by RisingBean (4978 posts) - - Show Bio

@manchine: Oh I was being tongue in cheek. Though to be honest, that many bb's can do damage I'd think. Blind a person if nothing else. Military is in a state of never getting it. They never seem to progress to the next level, opting to buy tanks we don't need to make sure certain companies keep contracts. The link I provided said it may be a scant few years before we see spec ops with the stuff. Who knows? It's about money moreso then anything else.

#22 Posted by HeckTate (1430 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm thinking the Starcraft Marine suit might be a more realistic first step for them. Stimpacks . . . Awwwww Yeah!

#23 Posted by Marionettegeist (1912 posts) - - Show Bio

If I had an Iron Man suit I would make such a great super-villain. I need to get working on it before the U.S. has something to fight back with.

#24 Posted by NorrinBoltagonPrime21 (6696 posts) - - Show Bio

Who wouldn't want one?

#25 Posted by TheCannon (19577 posts) - - Show Bio

@_zombie_ said:

Am I the only one imagining the scene from IM2 where Tony shows the failed copycat suits?

No, I was just thinking about that too.

#26 Posted by DeathpooltheT1000 (13040 posts) - - Show Bio

#27 Posted by Yokergeist (12355 posts) - - Show Bio

Sounds more like Halo Spartan armor.

#28 Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose (6548 posts) - - Show Bio

"WASHINGTON — Army Capt. Brian Dowling was leading his Special Forces team through a steep mountain pass in eastern Afghanistan when insurgents ambushed his patrol, leaving two of his soldiers pinned down with life-threatening wounds."

Well if Brian Dowling think it's a good idea, then it must be... right?

#29 Posted by JediXMan (31598 posts) - - Show Bio

This isn't surprising. The military has been working on exoskeletons for a long time now. I don't know why this should come off as a shock to anybody.

Moderator
#30 Edited by Perethorn (3910 posts) - - Show Bio

Iron Man suit? No.

A Metal Gear is more reliable

#31 Posted by GraniteSoldier (9309 posts) - - Show Bio
  1. This is nothing new, there was a prototype involved that was supposed to be part of the Land Warrior system that included a liquid Kevlar body suit, helmet with built in infrared/NVG capabilities, and a new rifle called the OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon). It was scrapped.
  2. The concept is nice, and I am for anything that helps bring people home to their families alive.
  3. If this was actually developed, it would not be in an article in the LA Times...
  4. If you saw some of the gear guys get loaded out with in the field, you'd think they were Iron Man already. There's some wicked tech out there above my clearance level.

#32 Edited by MrDirector786 (43698 posts) - - Show Bio

If they're going to do that, then they should avoid modeling them after the suits in Iron Man 3 or they will fall apart like wet tissue paper. :P