Iron ManMilitary leaders have not shied away from referring to the new suit the Pentagon wants to build for special operators as the “Iron Man” suit. So much so that they’ve turned to the special effects company in Hollywood that worked on the Iron Man franchise to build a prototype.

Legacy Effects, which has worked on Iron Man, RoboCop, and Captain America, have been asked by the Pentagon to build a prototype of the suit that is officially called the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

In fact, the special effects experts are using the same 3-D printers to build the prototype that they used to build the suit that Robert Downey Jr.’s character wears in the movies.

Navy Adm. William McRaven, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, said he wanted to see a prototype delivered this summer even saying he expected one finished last month. June has drifted into July, but SOCOM officials are keeping the pressure on for a fast delivery as expectations remain high for the suit.

“That suit, if done correctly, will yield a revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators,” McRaven said during the 25th annual Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict conference in February in Washington, D.C.

Pentagon and SOCOM leaders want the suit to provide breakthrough technologies such as bullet proof suits, powered exoskeletons and even the ability to see through walls. Essentially, the leaders of the program want scientists and engineers to try and turn the movies into real life.

In the effort to side step some of the typical acquisition processes that often delay or derail Pentagon programs, SOCOM has drawn the ire of lawmakers who want the program to fall under Congressional oversight. However, the program has moved along and SOCOM has used a warehouse in Florida to test some of the concepts they are experimenting, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Engineers are testing medieval armor and even the Under Armour speed skating suits to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

The team from Legacy Effects warned the Wall Street Journal reporter not to get hopes too high on the prototype. Designing a suit for real world combat is much different than designing one for a movie, Lindsay MacGowan, a founder of Legacy Effects, told the Journal.

“This one won’t be flying anytime soon, and it won’t be red or gold, but it will be something that is in the history books,” MacGowan told the Journal.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

JCitizen July 9, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Even if the suit works, I don't think any SPECOPS are going to stand around letting someone shoot AKs at them without doing something about it nippy-zippy straight!.

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Lance July 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm

I think this is a lot more money wasted no one want s a loud BIG suit that every one can hear and see when conducting a sneak attack or recon. Overall if you electrical breaks down your immobile and show this program is really hype and worthless at the same time.

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Tom July 9, 2014 at 10:29 pm

The idiot leadership is calling for this to try making up for the suicidal policies this administration is implementing, the worst of which is women in front line combat units. They know damned well the vast majority of women cannot keep up with men and will not be able to stand up against the enemy's forces, which will be men. There is no affirmative action on the battlefield. But political hacks are demanding women be incorporated into combat for the sake of their careers — demonstrating their view is the military is a jobs program and NOT for fighting and winning wars. So, now someone has this hair-brained scheme that they think will overcome the problems of incorporating weak soldiers into combat units. It's doomed to failure.

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Reallydavid July 10, 2014 at 7:35 am

Did you read the artical? I didn't see one thing about women in combat in the whole thing. You need to keep up.

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joe July 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

Where the hell did the article anything about women? It said "special operators".Seems like idiot writing is something else we all have to deal with.

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mikyle July 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

that's really sexist

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Female Soldier July 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Your a dam idiot. Women can do the same things as men, wake up.

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Crovey July 10, 2014 at 3:32 pm

It's literally a biological FACT that women are not as strong or resilient as men are in extreme conditions in combat. It's unfortunate and I wish it were otherwise, but that doesn't make it any less true. You can't just "feminist" away biological facts.

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Longbowgun July 10, 2014 at 9:32 am

It has the same appeal as a tank in an urban zone… Maybe they SHOULD paint it red and gold.

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@FosterBDAV66 July 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I wouldn't want this used for Spec. Ops. Anything like this would be just another thing to go wrong in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, it won't be exactly quiet or stealthy.

No, this really would be something more useful in creating a Mechanized Mobile Infantry suit as found in "Starship Troopers" or "Armor". I could see it starting with introduction to the Rangers. They'd beat it into the ground, or do their best to do so. Their mission and training, it would seem to me, would be best suited to the addition of such a system.

For now, it's still a dream. Until they can give it an energy source that can last hours of heavy use, with the strength to carry heavy weapons like a .50cal MG designed for it, or a full mortar set by an individual, as-well-as personal weapon, if not integrated, it's not worth a damn.

That's my thinking anyway.

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moondawg July 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Need to support hollywood movie moguls with military $$$

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Reno July 9, 2014 at 2:49 pm

If they could perfect something like this it would save many American lives. But what would power this thing??

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Sev July 9, 2014 at 6:44 pm

look up Graphene Batteries.

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Todd July 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

The arc reactor duh, lol

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zack July 11, 2014 at 3:47 am

thorium is a great powersource can power a v8 car engen for 50 years straight on only 1 gram. about the equivilant size of a small peice of coal.

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Brian B. Mulholland July 9, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Graphene batteries aren't ready for prime time, and aren't that close. If SOCOM wants a suit in the immediate future, either they accept something that has to be delivered within a few hundred feet of the front door of X, so that batteries might keep it going for an hour, or they concentrate on an exoskeleton that extends mobility but has a powertrain that is big, possibly volatile, and is intended to let the wearer cover fifteen miles at a run with a hundred-pound load, and which is then discarded before pickup. (Hydraulics powered by a rotary engine burning propane?) The expressed interest in an armored door – kicker suit leads me to infer that they expect to be kicking a lot of doors for the next few years.

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JCitizen July 9, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Oorja Protonics has already solved all the problems associated with ethanol fuel cells – the issues with gas reforming is good to go. I'd say a hybrid of a solid design like the new carbon air batteries, and a fuel cell to extend the energy life, are the way to go. You could used ethanol to fuel it, and that is not that hard to acquire – wood alcohol is available world wide.

I think some of the posters hear assume such a suit would be like a hollywood movie – actually many of the industrial robots I used to work on are very quiet, and certainly make less noise than most humans doing the same operation.

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Mike July 9, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Your telling me this money couldn't go somewhere more useful like better, lighter gear or lighter ballistic protection? Who would wear this IRON MAN SUIT just to lower the possibility of being injured? What if the soldier inside got killed and his buddies had to pull him AND the suit out? smh boys

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The Major July 10, 2014 at 7:22 am

How many soliders could been saved from seperation if it wasn't for all the money wasted on projects such as this?

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Muttling July 10, 2014 at 8:24 am

We're cutting programs left n right, talking about cutting pay, and we want to invest in an iron man suit for which the technology isn't ready to make work.

We need to rethink this legalized weed thing because our military planners appear to be smoking it.

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Ed C July 10, 2014 at 9:34 am

So the government hired Hollywood to do this? I guess it's a little give back for all those huge Hollywood donations to the democrat party.

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Jarod July 10, 2014 at 9:47 am

It’s incredible that some of the people posting here are completely oblivious to the fact that technology and ideas start somewhere. Think about computers. That thing that you basically hold in your hand everyday, started out as an enormous, noisy, limited chunk of metal and wires.

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FASnipeHT2 July 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

What a bunch of naysayers! Look at all of the progress in artificial limbs. They have powered limbs and exoskeletons now. You forget all of the ideas that hollywood came up with that later on, were adopted by science and spy agencies. You can now buy a Dick Tracy watch, cameras the size of a grain of rice, etc etc….What used to be science fiction, becomes science fact. The tricorder from Star Trek became the flip phone!

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majr0d July 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm

The powered exoskeletons have cables hooked into a power system or can only run four continuous hours at a walking speed with a max of 220 lbs. http://www.roboticstrends.com/service_healthcare/

All these things you cite happened almost half a century or more after they were created in fiction.

Some things are possible but the pie in the sky optimism is what the snake oil salesmen prey on. They love that type of optimism as they send us the bill. When do you think we'll have warp drive or be teleporting people? The first time teleportation was suggested in fiction was 1877. Must be right around the corner.

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Riceball July 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

While you do have a point it doesn't necessarily apply to the super suit that the DoD is currently looking at. Iirc previous articles make mention that they intend this to be an assault suit of sorts that's literally for the door kickers. The first person in the stack wears this suit and kicks in the door, maybe does some shooting or toss in a grenade or two, and is then followed in by conventionally equipped troops. As of right now there's no intention for one of these suits to be used in the field for any thing but kicking in doors, at least that's what I've read.

The idea isn't all bad, a super suit would be very handy for rear areas, airfields, and carrier decks to help with moving heavy objects, especially in confined areas where a conventional forklift is just too big or not maneuverable enough. Of course the Corps would never invest in something like this for that sort of work, not when they have plenty of PFCs and LCpls around to do that sort of work.

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majr0d July 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I agree. I think the Sarcos exoskeleton for example is a very real solution in the near term for the rear area in moving logistics or loading ordnance.

The advanced protection capability of this suit might be useful for the #1 man in the stack, ignoring the factors of having to get it to the door. Who wants to hump this thing through the bush? I'm skeptical of the powered suit capability being militarily useful to a combat unit outside the wire in the near future.

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Brian B. Mulholland July 10, 2014 at 9:37 pm

"Hollywood's" involvement makes for great press, but I'd bet that other developers have a bigger slice of the pie.
Is Boston Robotics still involved since Google bought it? …. and the emphasis on an armored suit leads me to think of an EOD suit with some power, both to permit fast movement for a bit and enhance the wearer's vision in bad conditions. And then back into the Bradley to recharge; if it's battery powered, that's the way it's going to be.

Lift a glass to Robert A. Heinlein and the power suits in "Starship Troopers."

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