- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Pentagon is poised to put a real-life “Iron Man” on the battlefield in under two years’ time, and military officials say the state-of-the-art, sensor-embedded suit of armor will give ground troops a significant advantage unmatched this side of the Marvel universe.

Development of the Defense Department’s Tactical Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is currently on schedule, and a first-generation model is expected to be ready to be worn by August 2018, Pentagon top-brass told reporters this week.

Talk of the high-tech TALOS project first surfaced in 2013, and President Obama acknowledged the following year that the government was “building Iron Man.” Indeed, Defense Dept. officials now say they are closer than ever to perfecting the high-tech bodysuit and soon hope to have it ready for deployment.

A finished product likely won’t be ready for a few more years, but developers said TALOS is expected to give soldiers a defense advantage more suited for combat than comic books.

The suit won’t have the ability to fly, like character Tony Stark does in the fictional “Iron Man” of Marvel comics lore, but an electrically activated shield called liquid body armor will allow soldiers to enable a sort of exoskeleton in a matter of milliseconds intended to deflect damage using what scientists described as a sort of “liquid ceramic.”

“It transitions when you hit it hard. These particles organize themselves quickly, locally in a way that they can’t flow anymore, and they become like a solid,” Norman Wagner, a University of Delaware chemical engineering professor, previously told NPR.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, explained to CNN this week that the TALOS concept was born from tragedy, but it has also put the Pentagon on the right course with regards to giving troops a level of protection not found anywhere else yet in the realm of warfare.

“This is a program that we started after we lost an operator on a mission. The first guy coming into a particular building was engaged and unfortunately was mortally wounded. And in the wake of that, we asked ourselves, ‘Couldn’t we do better in terms of protecting him, of giving him a better advantage when he’s at the most vulnerable point that we put our operators?’ ” Gen. Votel asked.

The goal, he explained to NPR, is: “To give that operator the advantage when he is most vulnerable.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Allen told CNN that the Defense Dept. does “not know how much TALOS will cost,” but a report published last year by then-Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, estimated an $80 million price tag.

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