Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

Read More Show Less

Ever since Robert Heinlein introduced the world to the fascist future of intergalactic warfare with 1959's Starship Troopers, the world has been fixated on seeing the powered armor he envisioned become a reality.

Heinlein's powered armor comes in many shapes and sizes. Call it an exoskeleton like the U.S. Army does or an 'Iron Man' suit like the minds behind U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit occasionally do. But everyone loves the idea of skimming enemy territory with jet-assisted leaps and bounds, your Y-rack firing out small H.E. bombs every couple hundred yards while looking like, in Heinlein's words "a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons.

The bizarre garbage pile that the Ghanian military trotted out last month is the complete opposite of that.

Read More Show Less

Beloved readers: Your trusted Pentagon correspondent apologizes for not sending out a Run-Down last week.There was a lot going on. In just four days, the Defense Department failed its first audit; a woman was selected for the Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course for the first time since 1981; and two Navy SEALs and two Marine Corps Special Operations Command Raiders were charged with murdering a Green Beret.

Read More Show Less

In 1959, Robert A. Heinlein published his iconic sci-fi military epic Starship Troopers, popularizing the concept of exoskeleton body armor that allows soldiers to carry more and move further and faster. Now, after many years of trial and error, Lockheed Martin is finally sending a pair of robot legs known as ONYX to the Army for field testing.

Read More Show Less
Air Force / Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez.

Space may be the final frontier, but it also provides the Pentagon a new opportunity to create a really crappy uniform.

Read More Show Less
Photo via Touchstone Pictures

When Starship Troopers first premiered on Nov. 7, 1997, America was in a martial slumber. Desert Storm was in the rearview mirror, the NATO intervention in Bosnia had wound down, and next to nobody had heard of Osama bin Laden. It was an era in which you could still finish an entire enlistment without earning a National Defense Service Medal. And for thousands of young, amped troops cooling their heels in garrisons around the world, the bloody, explodey, campy movie adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s legendary military science fiction epic was a collective wet dream.

Read More Show Less
© 2018 Hirepurpose. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service.