The death of a special operator in Afghanistan has inspired U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to build a full-body armor for soldiers to better guarantee their safety, even when they are not on the battlefield. With help from 56 companies, 16 government agencies, 13 universities and 10 government-funded laboratories, SOCOM is in the final stages of creating prototypes of “Tactical Assault Light-Operator Suit” (TALOS). Admiral William McRaven, the chief of SOCOM, has promised that the first three prototypes of TALOS will be finished this upcoming June, and the finalized suit is expected by August 2018.(http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140211/NEWS/302110014/SOCOM-working-Iron-Man-suit)
Modeled after the suit in the movie Iron Man, TALOS is an armored suit that includes advanced protection and better proficiencies for the soldiers. According to the official website of the U.S. Army, the weight of the armor will be cut down through materials that can change from solid to liquid in a millisecond when an electromagnetic field is applied.(http://news.yahoo.com/military-39-39-iron-man-39-suit-may-141715486.html)
The use of an exoskeleton, a mechanism that carries the brunt of the load, will allow TALOS to remain light-weight despite being full-body armor.(http://news.yahoo.com/military-39-39-iron-man-39-suit-may-141715486.html) Also, embedded heaters and coolers will adjust the temperature inside the suit. The bionic visual and aural sensing of the antennas and computers installed in the suit will help to monitor the soldier’s body and skin temperatures, heart-rate and hydration levels. The armor can automatically start administrating first-aid by controlling oxygen levels. (http://defensetech.org/2013/10/09/video-socom-wants-to-build-an-iron-man-suit/)
Despite the higher level of protection and capabilities that the armor allows soldiers, some people are not pleased with the suit. Jenna Chun (Sr.) said, “If the armor is not made strong, I think it can be an extra burden for the soldiers to carry around.” Ashley Kim (Sr.) agreed and said, “There is a lot of room for malfunction, and I do not see an immediate need for the armor right now.”
Although this actualization of the movie Iron Man sounds prodigious at first, there are some flaws in this project. SOCOM civilian Michael Fieldson, who is in charge of TALOS, justified this inequity to the public when he said, “It would be cost-prohibitive.” He feels that no matter how innovative the technology is, the lower priorities will continue to be vulnerable on the battlefield. Therefore, SOCOM is planning on issuing the suit only to highest risk missions like Navy SEAL missions against highest-priority targets such as Osama Bin Laden in 2011 or Somali terrorist Ikrimah last year.(http://defensetech.org/2013/10/09/video-socom-wants-to-build-an-iron-man-suit/)
Surely, TALOS will provide better protection to the soldiers through the advanced technology that is used, even though not all soldiers will be benefited from the suit.
By LYNN CHAE