The special effects' team behind superhero blockbusters Captain America and Iron Man are in the process of constructing bodysuits to protect U.S. special operations forces. Relying on medieval body armor templates as well, the special effects team's reported end goal is to have the design completed by 2018.
The suits, which could weigh up to 400 pounds, would shield special operations forces from bullets, bombs, and even bayonets. They would also enable special force agents to carry hundreds of pounds of equipment.
This plan presents, however, the obvious problem of weighing the agent down to an impractical degree. In May, the latest prototype – a partial exoskeleton – was tested and proved to be too cumbersome and heavy. Thus, Mike Fieldson, project manager for the military's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS), observed that the designers "are trying to be revolutionary" in rendering a prototype that feels weightless and allows its wearer to be agile.
Ekso Bionics, a company that designs exoskeletons for medical use, is also involved in the process. The company's co-founder, Russ Angold, commented,
"Hollywood has definitely made the Iron Man suit impossibly thin, impossibly light, impossibly agile and impossibly energy efficient."
He further shared that, in striving to design the perfect prototype, the question is,
"What would Iron Man look like if it was real?"
The designers admit, however, that while the Iron Man suit serves as an inspiration, the military's final product will likely look much less 'Hollywood'.
Revision Military, a company that designs ballistic eyewear and advanced head systems for the military, has commissioned former Special Forces soldier Brian Dowling to help with the design.
""Will you ever have an Iron Man?" Dowling pondered. "I don't know. But you'll have some greatly improved technology along the way."