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US Military building Iron Man suits

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Army researchers are working on building hi-tech body armor that would give soldiers “superhuman strength’’ in a real-life version of the suit featured in “Iron Man’’ films.

the blue print for the “revolutionary’’ Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) would include an exoskeleton to allow a soldier to carry heavy equipment, built-in computing power, beefed up protection to stop bullets and a system to monitor vital signs, officials said.

“Some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include advanced armor, situational awareness, command and control computers, power management systems, and enhanced mobility exoskeletons,’’ according to a US Army statement issued last month.

US Special Operations Command, which oversees elite Navy SEAL and Army Ranger commandos, put out the call last month for research papers on potential technologies that a ‘’smart’’ combat suit could incorporate.

The request for “white papers’’ will extend through September 2014, and then commanders and defense officials will weigh how to proceed while taking into account growing pressures on the Pentagon budget, said spokesman Roger Teel of the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM.

The new combat armor might also employ “liquid armor,’’ reminiscent of the “Terminator’’ films, though the technology is still in an early stage of development, Teel told AFP.

The liquid would transform into a solid if a magnetic or electrical charge was applied.

“There is a liquid armor that they are looking at developing,’’ said Teel, adding that scientists at MIT were studying the idea. “It could possibly be turned on with a battery switch’’ to deflect gunfire, he said.

TALOS “is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection,’’ according to an earlier statement from RDECOM.

In a crude animated demonstration video released by the army on how the combat suit might operate, a soldier in science fiction-inspired gear stands in a doorway as bullets bounce off at close range from an unidentified enemy.

While ominous music plays in the background, the words “to be continued…’’ flash upon the screen.

The project’s acronym, TALOS, refers to the automaton of Greek mythology made of bronze that Zeus deploys to safeguard his lover Europa.