The U.S. military made the clarion call two years ago for an “Iron Man”-style suit for special operators, and the defense industry has answered the bell.
Firms vying to build the Tactical Assault Light Operator’s Suit descended Thursday on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, for the three-day Special Operations Forces Industry Conference.
“Advanced armor, cutting-edge power sources and integrated display systems are just a few of the results this project has already yielded,” said Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Military.com reported.
If everything goes according to plan, he said, the Pentagon will have “the first of its kind, fully-integrated, independently-powered prototype by the end of August 2018.”
One of the firms to display a prototype was Revision Military.
Brian Dowling, program manager, told the defense website that its Kinetic Operations Suit has already successfully undergone live-fire testing with the Special Operations Forces community.
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“You can wear 60 percent more armor and still accomplish the same level of tasks,” he said of the suit, which features a powered lower-body exoskeleton and armor that covers 60 percent of the operator, Military.com reported.
The next step will be developing a power unit for the suit that is silent. A cooling fan that pumps water through three-feet of tubing to keep the core temperature of special operators stable is still audible.
SOCOM plans to spend $80 million over four years in research and development costs for the suit, the website reported.