U.S. military building real Iron Man suit

Iron Man. Marvel.com

Iron Man. Marvel.com

Thane Burnett, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:59 PM ET

The future of warfare -- or at least, the garb worn by elite soldiers -- may come down to Iron Man versus X-Men.

In a recent piece in the LA Times, officials detailed plans to design prototypes of advanced protective suits for soldiers of the near future.

The head-to-toe battle sheaths have already been designated "Iron Man suits" -- an unclassified description that's been trending in social media discussions over the past few days.

The thought of comic hero Tony Stark-approved exoskeletons deployed in conflicts zones -- complete with small motors in joints and neck-pieces offering greater strength as well as on-board data feeds into helmets -- is the stuff of geek dreams and a general's Christmas list.

The U.S. Special Operations Command has called for concepts, and wants to get potentially bionic boots on the ground as prototypes by the end of next year.

The unstoppable visions include suits offering maximum protection but that could automatically apply blood-stemming tourniquets if there is a wound.

One defence contractor said anything is possible -- though the ability of flight won't be an immediate option.

But the look of the armour may be far different than the designer-cyborg-Goliath fashion favoured by Iron Man.

Brian Dowling, a U.S. program manager for the Canadian-headquartered defence firm Revision Military, says he doesn't expect the bulk of a man encased in a robotic shell.

Dowling, a former U.S. Special Forces captain who saw action in Afghanistan, told QMI Agency, "I think in 20 years, (armour) will still look like the human body, not a robot."

He sees a sleek and manicured approach, with body-hugging technology that offers protection and things like enhanced daytime visual aids, but a suit that would allow soldiers to interact with locals without creating a barrier of mechanization.

"So no glowing hearts," figures Dowling.

But before tomorrow come the needs of today.

Revision Military announced Thursday it has secured a $9.5-million contract with the Canadian military to supply lighter-weight bullet-resistant plates for body armour.

The company -- founded as a sporty eyewear provider -- already supplies the Department of National Defence (DND) with ballistic eyewear as well as specialized helmets.

While they and others are brainstorming for the U.S. military prototype, Canadian soldiers aren't likely to be wearing the same all-American superhero threads anytime soon.

A DND spokesman noted Canada isn't currently in the market for such a prototype.


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