Congress Wants More Control of Special Ops Iron Man Suit

Iron Man Suit 3Lawmakers today moved to tighten congressional control over U.S. Special Operations Command’s new “Iron Man” battle suit, expressing concerns that program officials are already mishandling the complex effort.

SOCOM recently launched a new website to promote its vision of elite commandos outfitted in futuristic, battle suits like those depicted in Hollywood blockbusters such as Marvel’s Iron Man series.

The Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit effort, known as TALOS, would provide operators with full-body ballistic protection and increased physical performance. It would also feature embedded antennas and computers designed to give operators increased situation awareness. It’s even supposed to keep the wearer cool in hot weather and warm in cold climates.

Despite “aggressive marketing efforts by USSOCOM,” members of the House Armed Services Committee want to know more about the program before funding is approved.

“The committee understands that present efforts are being used to survey current technologies and to better inform future requirements documents, and that USSOCOM intends to deliver a fully functional prototype assault suit by August 2018,” according to language in the Fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Bill released by the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

“The committee is concerned that these requirements are not being properly coordinated with related or complementary efforts at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Command.”

The bill’s language includes guidelines to go with SOCOM’S $17.5 million budget request to support TALOS.

“The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to brief the congressional defense committees by August 1, 2014, on the TALOS project and similar efforts to include:

— The overall TALOS requirement for U.S. Special Operations Forces, including requirements validation;

— A list of funded activities for fiscal years 2013-14, as well as planned activities for fiscal year 2015 and beyond, including efforts through DARPA, Natick Soldier Systems Command, the other military services, the Rapid Innovation Fund, and industry;

— Coordination efforts undertaken with USSOCOM, DARPA, Natick Soldier Systems Command and other similar ongoing research and development activities;

— Project timelines including the development of prototypes and anticipated funding;

— Any other developmental efforts underway that could satisfy USSOCOM TALOS-like requirements;

— Any other items the Secretary of Defense deems appropriate.”

The TALOS team plans on partnering with industry and academia to help overcome some of the huge, financial hurdles involved with developing such complex, multi-component technology.

USSOCOM intends to funnel $80 million into research and development for the four-year effort.

Defense industry officials maintain that the program will likely cost hundreds of millions more to perfect the sophisticated technology.

The U.S. Army $500 million over 10 years on Land Warrior, the first generation of wearable, computerized command-and-control technology, before the system’s reliability problems with solved in 2006.

“While USSOCOM is the proper authority to define Special Operations Forces peculiar requirements, it may not be the appropriate entity to lead such developmental technology efforts, like TALOS,” the bill’s language states.

“While the committee understands that Natick Soldier Systems Command is currently developing and partially funding one of the two Generation-I prototypes for USSOCOM, the committee is concerned that USSOCOM is also funding outside private sector research, and that overall efforts lack proper coordination and oversight, systems integration and collaboration, and prototype evaluation.”

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Matt Cox
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  • Paul

    Based on this example:

    The U.S. Army $500 million over 10 years on Land Warrior, the first generation of wearable, computerized command-and-control technology, before the system’s reliability problems with solved in 2006.

    “While USSOCOM is the proper authority to define Special Operations Forces peculiar requirements, it may not be the appropriate entity to lead such developmental technology efforts, like TALOS,” the bill’s language states
    /End Quote/

    It may be safe to say the Army hasn’t had an easy time of this task, perhaps a smaller, very focused, quick reaction service might have more success at a lower cost…

    They’ve proven the ability to provide successful, operational, high tech systems in some cases before the public even knows they exist…

    • majr0d

      Examples and at what cost?

      • Random


        • majr0d

          Ignoring for a moment we don’t know the performance specs and effectiveness of the Ghosthawk or Stealthhawk, what did it cost to field that system?

    • commenter

      There is absolutely no way they will get all they want designed, tested, and accepted for $17.5 million. Embedded thermal management, ballistic protection, mechanical actuation for increased strength, and comms & computer gear???

      All pretty much state of the art stuff with few functional examples, none of which have all they want.

      It’s hard just to make ballistic protection that is wearable and light enough to be usable (that why nobody wears full body protection).

    • ajspades

      Considering they are building something that is the first of its kind, incorporating gear that has never been designed to seamlessly work together, putting any price tag to this is kind of pointless. Inevitably, someone is going to do this, and beyond some techno-wizard genius billionaire unilaterally doing it; it will take some large organization to pull it off.

      Personally I would rather the government do more of a fiscal oversight and book keeping than actually tell/organize/recommend what the suits should (or shouldn’t) do or cost.

  • blight_

    This will likely result in SOCOM cannibalizing DARPA and Natick for their researchers.

  • Yeahright

    Very cool if it works, but I have a feeling you’ll plan to buy 10,000 but end up stopping the production run at 10.

  • Yeahright

    Although now Congress is involved, it’ll probably be fine.

    • ondeathsdoorstepp

      We hope…..

  • BILL D

    Everyone that trusts a congress with a 15% approval rating to have authority over this tech please raise ypour hand—-what a bunch of bull-

    • treeshakertucker

      Buries hand in ground.

  • Rod

    “Lawmakers today moved to tighten congressional control… expressing concerns that program officials are already mishandling the complex effort.”

    I wonder how many of said lawmakers were actually soldiers, scientists or engineers. Because you know… politics always makes things run more smoothly.

    • jsallison

      “Lawmakers today moved to tighten congressional control…” aka ensure opportunities for vote-buying, graft and pork are readily accessible. As Cuba Gooding Jr was wont to say: “Show me the money!!!”

  • puresaltA1A

    so what they are really saying is congress wants more control over this program so they can figureout how to get paid on this…..

  • Big-Dean

    but is it stealth?….the air farce wants to know ;-P

  • stephen russell

    I say Use off the shelf for TALOS alone to cut costs but keep in program as planned for Field Use. Might lower costs IF use offshelf systems etc alone.
    Dont need Congress overseeing this suit, then Id go No place.

    • William_C1

      You can’t really find power armor “off the shelf”.

  • voodkokk

    Will they stop a .50 Cal or an RPG?

    • thematerialsguy

      No; or rather I would say, highly unlikely at least in the traditional sense… without a huge leap in materials technology; or basically wearing a tank on a powered exoskeleton. That amount of energy is too much to stop/absorb in a light-weight armor system that would still enable you to remain highly agile/dexterous. This is pure speculation but it might be possible with an sacrificial reactive armor outer panel… but there would have to be a lot of testing on that sort of thing… and it would be a once and done sort of thing.

      • majr0d

        Reactive armor has no effect on kinetic rounds like the .50 cal.

        • JohnnyRanger

          Really? I always thought reactive armor was specifically for kinetic rounds. Wikipedia agrees, not that it’s the be-all and end-all of authoritative information…

          • majr0d

            The most common type of reactive armor is a box filled with a special explosive bolted onto the outside of armored vehicles often at very specific angles so they detonate from the impulse of the molten jet of a shaped charge and redirect the jet so as not to penetrate the vehicle’s interior.

            Some are calling composite armor “reactive armor” because it “reacts” to a penetrator causing it to fail. (I’m not comfortable going into the details on how the penetrator fails but it’s not due to an explosion.) If that were the case all modern armor approaches are “reactive armor”. That’s hardly helpful.

            That said there is an exception. Google Kontakt-5 ERA. It’s built by Russia and consists of explosive sandwiched between two plates that was able to defeat older sabot rounds. The latest being tested is Relikt which relies on tank mounted radar exploding the right plate to defeat the latest sabot rounds. It remains to be seen if radar can pick up a sabot round in flight, determine its trajectory and explode the right block of Relikt ERA to disrupt the incoming penetrator.

          • JohnnyRanger

            Huh. I had no idea. I always thought spaced armor = shaped charge and reactive armor = sabot. Thank you sir.

    • Curtis Conway


  • William_C1

    Because we all know the US Congress are experts at “efficiency” and “cost-savings”…

    • HiPowerGuy

      HEY………..NOT FAIR!!!!! Now, I can understand that those $900+ hammers from the 70’s & 80’s were pretty darn expensive, but, they have come down in price, and are being acquired for less than $500!

      That…………….is PROGRESS! :-)

  • rtsy

    August 2018 my ass. If congress is this interested theres already a team operating with at least one full suit.

    • majr0d

      A powered suit? No. Maybe the electronics situational awareness piece with high speed body armor but the power is a L O N G pole in the tent…

      • rtsy

        Depends on the capabilities they want to give the suit. A small hydraulics system for the legs and a harness on the chest can take some wieght of the soldiers back and serve as an anchor point for some armor wouldn’t need that much power.

        • majr0d

          Sorry to say you are guessing wrong. I was a project officer for portions of the land warrior program and responsible for modeling objective force warrior at the Infantry battle lab. During that time I was also pretty up to date on the latest initiatives in this area. Power is what has been keeping powered suits or exoskeletons from being fielded. We simply don’t have the battery tech to power these systems for the time we need them to work in the field.

          When we see our cell phones and laptops double and triple their battery performance we “might” be close to what’s needed. We will see an “Aliens” style “powerloader” being used at forward bases or to arm airplanes before a powered exoskeleton/suit. This power think is where reality clashes with fiction. Keep in mind “Ironman” has a powersorce that can power flight the size of a human heart. Too many folks think what we see in Hollywood is remotely possible.

          • rtsy

            Again, its about simplicity. If you want to build a system that can lift 500lbs all day long than yes, you’ll need a lot of power. If you only want to protect him while entering doors and take a little load off his back than power requirements fall dramatically.

          • majr0d

            Amputees and quadriplegics don’t need to move a lot of weight. If what you thought was true they would have fully operational robotic legs vs. the clunky prototypes that only run for a couple of hours.

            You can simplify all you want but if the technology isn’t there, it isn’t there. Land warrior was an idea for almost two decades. Until the smartphone arrived Land Warrior was just plain to heavy to be worth it. Now we are issuing brigades Nett Warrior.

          • rtsy

            A system similar to the Hybrid Assistive Limb with some armour on the chest would be fieldable for the 5-10 minutes it would take to actually breach a door. TALOS is only supposed to protect the soldier during entry, not fly around and fire rockets and survive nuclear explosions.

            This stuff can and is being done.

          • majr0d

            How does the “Hybrid Assistive Limb” get to the objective? Fly?

            Yes there are cool videos all over the place of prototype systems that operate for minutes or hours and lift relatively small loads. The video you shared is from 2010, three years ago and yet there have been no major advances. Ever wonder why you don’t see this technology being given to the multitude of wounded we have? The tech isn’t there yet.

            Enthusiasm is great. The salesmen are relying on it but it doesn’t make things work in the field.

          • dave

            What type of battery tech are you using??? There are types such as silveroxides that can boost laptops up to 6 times current power reserves.

          • majr0d

            Six times? References? Ever ask yourself why those silveroxide batteries aren’t in your computer?

    • rtsy

      A system similar to the Hybrid Assistive Limb with some armour on the chest would be fieldable for the 5-10 minutes it would take to actually breach a door. TALOS is only supposed to protect the soldier during entry, not fly around and fire rockets and survive nuclear explosions.

      This stuff can and is being done.

  • Hialpha

    Wait, this isn’t TALOS “Lightning II” or something, right?

  • mrlee

    Who ever heard of a Congressman having a brain? So how could they vote on this? The only people who should vote on this, are the people will be wearing this stuff. Not like that garbage that they gave us in Vietnam. The bullet went into your chest, and came out of your back.

  • Rob

    Then just need a mid sized hover drone to drop off,resupply and pick up these units. If physical strength enough, may want to adapt shielding. Whether it be a bulletproof Riot shield or smaller to be determined by that. Some may argue it is not needed. Think of the suits vulnerabilities and a shield would be protective for support units & reduce counter sniper line of fire. Which brings on a concept of Sparta 300 … Iron men with shields would form the most fortified platoon outside of armoured vehicles, in existence.

    • JohnnyRanger

      I have absolutely no idea what you just tried to say.

      • Rob……

        With Iron Man Suit

  • hibeam

    Can I rent one of these? My neighbor likes to mow the lawn at 7:00am. Your gonna need a breakthrough in power sources. A Marine can run all day on a can of beans and a canteen of water.

    • JohnnyRanger

      A Marine and a can of beans? There’s your breakthrough power source :-)

  • BlackOwl18E

    Since when has involvement from Congress ever made anything better?

  • oblatt22

    The rats are just fighting over the dwindling defense budget.

    SOCOM is carving out a niche for itself in the MIC so naturally it need the wasteful projects and slush funds that the other services have. But it needs to be careful not to be too Hollywood - that is the marines last remaining role in the world.

  • PolicyWonk

    “expressing concerns that program officials are already mishandling the complex effort…”
    Imposing congressional oversight on this program, which they say is being mishandled, is less than inspiring given the congress has a lower popularity rating than EBOLA. And thats besides the point that this congress has earned the dubious distinction of worst performing HoR in US history - by a large margin.

    I’d rather see them fixing the revenue/income problems (realistically), and getting on with the nations business.

  • chaos0xomega

    So, reading between the lines, basically what this says is “We the members of Congress are concerned that our ‘constituents’ (read: corporate “sponsors”) aren’t getting a slice of the Talos pie, and we want to make sure that our guys get to have their share of the defense dollars and rather than doing the intelligent thing to minimize overhead on the project by keeping the number of parties involved to a minimum, we’re going to make sure that you need to buy bolts made in Kansas to go with the screws made in Maine, to hold the armor plates manufactured in arizona to the hydraulic frame made in california with an electronics package from new jersey… oh, and the entire thing is going to be assembled in hawaii, because fuck you.”

    • Bill D

      I thought it was all going to be sent over to China and assembled there—save them the trouble of hacking the DOD computers and stealing all the tech AGAIN.

  • rbd2

    How about testing a robot on these suites for Seal real live assignment?

    • rbd2

      I mean suit

  • wtpworrier

    Wait a minute, didn’t congress try this in “Iron Man 2” movie?…Tony Stark didn’t like that at all.

  • Lance Brown

    Called a waste of money BIG time most of all we don’t need bulky heavy and unrealistic suits like this. Some General watched too much Iron Man and thinks it a real life story. That again is just sad.

  • Juramentado

    When I saw this article’s title the first thing I thought of was: “…I tried to play ball with these a$$ clowns… (Iron Man 2).

  • gkm

    what congress really wants is a piece of the money pie for every ones home state. This is another reason we are falling behind the rest of the world in military technology. Too many greedy hands to be greased.

    • sans

      the US spends more than the next 20 countries combined. Indeed, our outlandishly large annual military spending has been the only reason for the nightmarish federal budget deficits and the humongous government debts.

      • JohnnyRanger

        The ONLY reason, huh? Yeah, O’s social & corporate welfare / redistribution programs had NOTHING to do with it…

  • oleinwi

    High tech can always ultimately be defeated by low tech. We’re leaving Afghanistan, as did the Russians, after throwing everything at it besides a clean slate type attack. The Taliban are still there, again. We could have just obliterated Kabul on 9-12 and sent a message that any more terrorist attacks on US soil and Medina is gone next, then Mecca after that, done. That is how we won WWII, utter destruction of the enemy and their home.

    So what? We dump these “iron men” into a remote area, kill a few terrorists, then what? 5 more radical muslims replace each of the dead ones the next day. High tech won’t defeat that ideology.

    • sans

      Taliban and Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9-11, which by all accounts and uncovered evidence, was clearly a false flag operation concocted by a group in the US with highly placed individuals in the administration and the intelligence apparatus.

      • java vm

        Aye. I am calling out Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the Bush family for this. One of GW Bush’s brothers was closely connected to security firm guarding the twin towers at the WTC. There had been several power outages during which persistent loud noise associated with use of heavy equipment had been repeatedly heard.

      • java vm

        Also take a hard look at this guy … Larry Silverstein. He had clearly stated on camera that building 7 had to be pulled (tech term .. meaning pulling down a building with explosives) because of “uncontrollable fire” but reversed himself upon questioning. He made close to seven billion dollars after spending mere tens of millions a few months prior to 9/11. No investigative report from any of the news networks!!!

  • JungleJim

    Whose districts and which large defense contractors were left out in the cold on this expedited project?

  • Gdadl

    Remember everyone - when they get elected to Congress they think thier IQ automatically jumps up by 100 points !!!!
    But how does that really help us when they have an IQ of 2 before getting elected

  • Spartan61

    One word explains all of this:


    You can bet OUR (collective) bottom dollar that lobbyists for the military industrial complex (LM, Raytheon, GenDynam, BAE, etc.) are pushing for control of this project with PAC contributions to our venerable and oh so noble representatives.

    Follow the money.

  • TheBlackPiper

    The military procurement process leaves a lot to be desired (among other things, the whole Stryker fiasco comes to mind), particularly because of the incestuous relationship between the military and the defense industry (which hires the retired flag officers to “represent” their interests). However, the solution is sure as hell NOT to let Congress meddle in the process because (1) they have not demonstrated the ability to manage anything including themselves and (2) they view any procurement program as a vote buying piggy bank without any regard to the consequences.

  • Hunter76

    Congress smells money.

  • reb

    Congress doesn’t even have ‘control’ of itself. They must not be allowed to meddle.

  • FASnipeHT2

    One of the worst Congress in history is ready to help out! So far the best things that have come from these programs is better tech for wounded vets.

  • GLS

    Sounds like service jealousy that SOCOM using it’s Title 10 authority for accelerated acquisition is moving out to get something done quicker than the services can. GLS

  • snidely

    Just what SOCOM needs……to have the procurement effort overseen by a bunch of congressional idiots that have no concept of what the warfighter actually does or might actually need. The record for congressional oversight of ANY procurement effort is, at best, pathetic. The reason that SOCOM is proceeding in this manner is because of all of the “help” they have received from congress in the past. Congressional oversight will be a sure recipe for getting this effort over budget, late, and ineffective in meeting the warfighter’s needs. Coordination with the Army might not be a bad idea and working with DARPA could be helpful, but keep congressional interference limited if possible. Congress is the proverbial cub bear with boxing gloves on picking fly crap out of pepper.

  • Rich

    Mr. Stark was quotes saying to Congress “I’ve successfully privatized world peace”.

  • Seaux

    SOCOM is going after an Iron Man Suit, Congress is going to manage the program and we still haven’t found overmatch to the AK-47 and RPG. The Military Industrial Complex / civilian DOD work force and too many General Officers military are getting rich off the taxpayer and the blood sweat and tears of our most precious resource ……young men and women in uniform…….embarrassing

  • Vietvet1968

    Every time the present sitting Congress gets their hands into the military programs, it becomes a cluster f-k. There is no need for these greedy SOB’s to stick their BS noses where they do not belong.

    • peters

      It’s just for the show, and for domestic consumption.

      Who do you think is running the show in Congress? Those brainless, spineless, unscrupulous Congressmen? LOL.

      This is your real government: the banking cartel, the oil cartel, and the weapons cartel (aka the military industrial complex). They own the White House, the mainstream media (aka the propaganda apparatus), the military, the intelligence apparatus AND the vast majority of your Con-gressmen.

      They can buy anyone and anything as long as the Federal Reserve note is accepted - because they have the printing press.

  • Jerry

    Reminds me of the “Future Warrior” program of the 80’s. Millions of dollars, laptops that didnt work in the field. When all is said and done with the grunts it’s soldier, rifle, boots, uniform, body armor and kevlar. Bunch of old azz Sergeant Majors talking “Tanks, Brads, Helicopters, Horses, it doesnt matter how you get there, it’s what you do when you get there”. “SINGARS, Freq Hopping, Digital, two cups with string between them? Who gives a ******* as long as you can call the rounds in, dustoff in and maneuver”. “If there is a new body armor, in a short time there will be a round that will defeat it”. All the whizbang gadgetry in the world will not prevent Murphy’s Law of Combat Number 1.

    • SJE

      True dat. But while we seem to stiff injured vets, there is always billions for new toys.

    • blight_

      No, but a failure to whizbang will lead to large cemeteries full of crosses. Whizbang gave us machineguns, but we needed a little more whizbang to get us to tanks and armored personnel carriers instead of crossing a wall of lead.

      We’ve done enough whizbang to put assault rifles into the hands of every America-hating local in almost any locale on the planet, along with the means of destroying vehicles, such as commercial explosives and ANFO, or old military stores. We can either get used to more casualties or insist on ways to push beyond our enemies.

  • sev

    Millions of dollars and you still look like a tool wearing this suit.

  • SJE

    We need something to protect against blast overpressure, which seems to be doing a lot of the killing and maiming.

  • First Last

    You should all be concerned with AGENDA21 when looking at a news like this.I suggest you do your homework and start feeling concerned with all your money thrown at something that sooner or later will be used against you.Cause your government has been overtaken a while ago by the U.N. and in fact your army IS used by them to attain their goal which is world domination by the elite.Whish us the best but im not too optimistic looking around.

    • blight_

      “their goal which is world domination by the elite”

      …the elite already dominate the world. Regardless of race, color, creed, money and power talk. That’s why they’re elite.

      Not much to keep them in check. Except their fear of mutually assured destruction and the loss of the system that keeps them wintering in St Barts and summering in Monaco.

  • Chuck

    Why not just have a Telsa coil in the back of a truck that can be deployed to power the suits?

    • blight_

      Tesla coils don’t provide energy.

      • Arjan

        Are you sure about that? Plasma Arcs are not exactly the easiest method of power distribution, but they definitely provide energy. On the other hand, the added benefit of Tesla coils is of course the ability to provide energy while performing the imperial march (, which is appropriate considering the stormtrooper esque look of this suit.

  • Capt K. A. Phillips

    Congress wants to release our current well trained forces to put illegal aliens in their place, so the 12 million illegals will help America. Then, we have elite special forces who cannot communicate with the rest of the forces, because they (forces) don’t speak English. Then, we are putting the illegals in 17.5 million dollar iron man suits, which will be immediately sent to Mexico. Two weeks after being issued, the drug cartels will have 500 of them. Is Congress smart or what?


    Ear Marks are coming back is the word coming out of the congress, this is a good a pork project as any and you can smell the fat frying now……..

  • anthony

    Yeah we did have garbage in Nam looking at the soldier today!
    But times, and ways of wars change,we still did our best in Nam,


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  • NotoriousBRT

    “You want my property? You can’t have it. But I did you a big favor, I have successfully privatized world peace!” That’s all I could think of when I read this article, lol.

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