The U.S. military command in charge of special operations is betting tens of millions of dollars on a science fiction suit that would wrap troops in high-tech body armor and effectively afford them superhuman abilities.

Speaking last month in Tampa, Florida at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) — an annual gathering of elite military decision-makers and their partners in the private sector — the new commander of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army Gen. Joseph Votel, said the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, otherwise known as TALOS, is “on track.”

But behind the scenes, critics continue to question whether the military’s “Iron Man” suit would ever be used in battle.

TALOS figured prominently in this year’s conference, which featured a large banner dedicated to the suit hanging above the expo floor. The banner depicted the May 2015 cover of National Defense magazine, which read, “SOCOM ‘Iron Man’ Suit: Pipe Dream or Reality?”

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