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Is America Building Iron Man?

So last week, President Obama announced—tongue firmly planted in cheek—that defense contractors are building Iron Man:

He’s probably referring to this Broad Agency Announcement regarding research proposals having to do with Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) technologies. Specifically, the U.S. military is looking for new armor-integrated technology in the following areas:

  • Improved strength and durability ;
  • Mobility/agility tech, including use of electronics and hydraulics ;
  • Situational awareness and augmented reality technology ;
  • Stealth technology ;
  • Communications technology ;
  • Portable power systems ; and
  • Thermal and medical safeguards.

One item that isn’t on the list is jet boots, perhaps in part because launching the wearer into the air without providing enough fuel for a safe landing wouldn’t be practical. The repulsors are still firmly in the realm of science fiction, too—the technology behind portable beam weapons is still in its infancy.

The TALOS funding proposal comes with a delightfully cheesy video, featuring a soldier who bursts into a room wearing impenetrable body armor and presumably just kind of stands there until his assailants run out of bullets:

The call for proposals ends in September, and may ultimately lead to technology with non-military applications—though it’s very clear, judging from the video above and the agency responsible for producing it, that the TALOS program focuses exclusively on military applications for now.

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Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.
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