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US Special Forces Combat Suit Goes Open Source

April 17, 2014
via Bioware

via Bioware

The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) recently launched a website for its TALOS program. Dubbed a “combat suit” and hyped by media outlets as a real-life version of popular Marvel character Iron Man, the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit is high tech armor for special forces personnel during combat missions. is actively soliciting help from volunteers, defense contractors, manufacturers, and researchers to provide the different parts and systems needed for a complete product. The short-term goal is to assemble Talos, the long-term goal is producing a system that will render the wearer invincible in the battlefield.

The Talos program began last year after Admiral William McRaven, the current SOCOM head and architect of the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, personally lobbied for its necessity.

But rather than allow a defense contractor or the military’s in-house R&D wing DARPA to wrap the program in a cloak of secrecy, Talos was rolled out in real-time. Its tablet and social media optimized site explains the Talos concept in detail and welcomes open source input.

Even the various private and public sector “collaborators” are listed, including NASA, at least 55 corporations, plus MIT, Stanford, and Virginia Tech, among other engineering schools.

Since Talos is envisioned as a suit of armor for commandos, its requirements are straightforward. Six “functional areas” must be created for Talos to work as a whole. These are a power source; a suite of weapons; a cooling unit with vital stats monitoring; a built-in computer; round-the-clock connectivity; and a heads-up display.

Although Talos appears to be in line with the dated idea for a Future Soldier, which has long been a defense industry marketing platform, its ambition to completely reinvent the “war fighter” or “operator” or “Socom warrior” sets it apart.

To meet its requirement for a working prototype before decade’s end, the Talos website accepts submissions from anyone who’s willing to share ideas. The people behind the site are on Twitter (@SOFTALOS), Youtube, and Google+ and welcome those who wish to stay in touch.

Kruger Elysium

What Talos aspires to.

The Talos program is being carried out from SOCOM’s MacDill Air Force Base headquarters in Tampa, Florida. True to its out-of-the-box open source values, a Talos competition will be held next week at SOFIC 2014, a SOCOM-sponsored conference at the Tampa Convention Center. A sort of X-Prize for design submissions for its exoskeleton and power source is also scheduled to be launched this summer.

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