U.S. Special Operations Command's Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Center provided a status update of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit at the 2017 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida, 17 May.
The suit is intended to offer SOF operators better protection and enhanced capabilities. These capabilities include increased survivability, lethality, situational awareness and decreased time to target engagement by the operator.
In addition to showcasing the latest TALOS design accomplishments, SOF AT&L used this assembly of more than 400 defense-industry oriented companies to tackle its newest set of challenges in advancing the TALOS and to further explore potential solutions with defense industry firms both large and small.
"SOFIC provides an ideal opportunity to engage with industry," said U.S. Army Col. James D. Miller, director of the TALOS program. "We're able to leverage the eleven thousand attendees and hundreds of defense industry companies here to find solutions that may not have been considered."
Throughout the week SOF AT&L engineers, acquisition experts and SOF operators were on hand to look at potential technologies and provide inputs to existing industry partners as well as explore potential new partnership opportunities. The teams met with some of the defense industries largest and most notable companies as well as small organizations and start-ups for breakout sessions addressing various aspects of suit development.
"We provided two open sessions to educate the greater community about the technology gaps that have emerged over the life of the program," said Miller. "We also met privately with potential technology contributors to assess the potential for system integration. Overall, the individual sessions were successful and they helped us further connect with industry."
Reaching out to industry is not a new concept for SOF AT&L. It's been part of the center's approach to acquisition since its inception in 1991 and has become deeply ingrained in the organization's ethos.
"We have always sought to accelerate the delivery of innovative TALOS capabilities to the special operations forces warfighter through outreach and collaboration with industry," said Miller. "USSOCOM is developing revolutionary capabilities — a suit that offers operators better protection, enhanced performance, and improved situational awareness. We have been able to do that in large part to our numerous partnerships with industry."
SOF AT&L established a joint acquisition task force in November 2013 to begin the iterative process of developing TALOS. To tackle the herculean task, USSOCOM assembled a team of SOF operators, technical experts and acquisition professionals to explore and develop the required technologies. The task force was a success and the TALOS team has since produced numerous iterations of the suit with ever-increasing capabilities and effectiveness. The task forces' original charter called for a first article-prototype in the summer of 2018. The team in on track to do just that, and expects the prototype to be available for testing and further advancement of the design.
"The end game for TALOS is to have unprecedented and overmatched capability against the enemy threat," said Miller. "We move closer to that goal with each iteration of the suit. We'll continue to work with our partners in industry to accelerate the delivery of the most effective technologies."