U.S. Special Operations Command’s high-profile tactical assault light operator suit (TALOS) effort marches on, but its success may lie more in several pieces of new equipment rather than one suit that can do it all, SOCOM’s acquisition leader said Feb. 6.

For the past five years, SOCOM has been developing a high-powered suit meant to enhance survivability and ensure mobility reminiscent of Iron Man’s famous suit for the operators kicking down doors during a raid and at particular risk of small arms fire and bomb blasts. Last year, senior leaders pledged to have a prototype suit in testing within the 2019 timeframe.

Original tactical assault light operator suit (TALOS) concept. Image: MacDill Air Force Base, Florida

While the TALOS effort is ongoing, the end game may not be a full powerful suit but rather “several technologies that we are very excited about,” SOCOM Acquisition Executive James Smith said Wednesday at National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict conference in Arlington, Virginia.

The command is moving ahead with developing a light exoskeleton body armor that could be ready for testing “here in a few months,” Smith said, claiming that once the armor is released, SOCOM “will have the best exoskeleton in the Department of Defense.”

He cautioned that it is not expected to be ready to take on enemy fire at that point, but could have “great applicability” for logistics, and endurance over long distances.

Special Operations Command is also moving forward with a weapon stabilization capability and a new visual augmentation system, both technologies that emerged from the TALOS effort, Smith noted.

The original suit concept included a variety of other subsystems along with the exoskeleton, to include an encompassing base layer, new helmet, and sufficient power and communications technology to be able to operate untethered.

Smith noted that the TALOS effort had always fallen under SOCOM’s science and technology initiatives and is not a program of record, and that the command “continues to focus on all of those survivability [capabilities] that we’re interested in for our operators. We’re going to keep looking at all of those things.”