China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could one day get an “iron man” suit that will provide soldiers with “heavy firepower, special armor, and flying capability,” according to a report by the state propaganda outlet Global Times on Wednesday.
Ideas for the futuristic suit were judged at the Super Warrior 2019 Military Individual Exoskeleton System Challenge in Beijing, organized by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Equipment Department.
Around 100 teams from research institutes, universities, and companies across the country reportedly participated in the competition, where judges tested their suits’ “ability to carry heavyweight, mobility in rough terrain and artillery ammo loading.”
The suits are intended to be worn as a sort of “exoskeleton,” fitted with intelligence systems that can read the soldier’s intentions and synchronize with their movement. Their aim is also to give its users “extra kinetic energy” while also enhancing their “strength, speed and stamina” of users.
According to Chinese “military experts,” the competition will help enhance innovation and help engineers create an effective piece of equipment for “future warfare.”
One of these “experts” claimed the suits could be “connected to a network that allows information sharing and integrates with heavier individual weapons like automatic grenade launchers and light machine guns, giving individual soldiers strong firepower.”
“The current exoskeleton systems are still basic, but in the future, the armor, weapons and flight systems will be integrated into a power suit that could turn ordinary soldiers to ‘iron man’ soldiers,” he explained.
Other futuristic military technology showcased at the competition allegedly included “special armor protections and individual flight systems,” and a jetpack.
The contest underlines the ambition of the PLA to become the world’s most potent military force, thus cementing China’s place as the most powerful country in the world.
In May this year, the U.S. Defense Department released a report warning that China was dramatically upgrading its military capabilities and expanding its ability to project power, aggressively using technology theft to rapidly modernize its military forces.
China’s current military priorities lie in threatening Taiwan, the contested areas of the South China Sea, and the Arctic Circle. China has made clear that its ambitions ultimately cover the entire world, with Beijing already having developed predatory relations with dozens of countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.