US SOCOM Still Looking for High-Tech Upgrades After ‘Iron Man Suit’

  • The Pentagon is looking to keep its edge over rivals by giving US troops the best tech out there.
  • US Special Operations Command has been leading the way, often providing real-world testing for various weapon systems and technology.
  • With its Hyper Enabled Operator program, SOCOM aims to equip special operators with technology to better understand the battlefield without impairing their ability to fight.

For years, the Pentagon has been looking to maintain its competitive edge over its near-peer competitors by outfitting US troops with the best technology out there.

The US Special Operations Command, known as SOCOM, has been a pioneer in this effort, often providing real-world testing for various weapon systems and technology that eventually is widely distributed among conventional forces.

This effort stalled amid decades of fighting technologically inferior enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the return of great-power competition, this time with China and Russia, has brought the need for technological superiority to the fore.

Central to this push for tech is SOCOM’s Hyper Enabled Operator program, known as HEO.

SOCOM has already experimented with equipping commandos with advanced weaponry and sensors. In 2013, the command introduced the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS.

TALOS was an Iron Man-style exoskeleton meant to give special-operators several advantages over adversaries. The program was canceled after a few futile years, but the concept lives on in the HEO.

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