Skinny on the Stealth Armor

....infiltrate the East German fortress, Heaven's Hand, in issue 152.

The Low Observable, or Stealth, Armor, Model X, Mark I is used for covert activities when "invisibility" is prudent. In fact, Tony Stark got the idea for the sleek, jet black suit after he was tracked to the Star Well. Made of polarized metal mesh armor that uses every bit of space for detection and evasion components, the Mark I was originally designed with no weapons (there was no room). The armor itself was fabricated from a composite material different from Tony's standard armors, evidenced by the fact that it had only limited laser resistance and was cracked up pretty good in its maiden voyage. The suit skin has an average thickness of 4 mm.

Model X accomplishes its stealthy edge via multiple scanning devices and wave modifiers that thwart radar rays. You see, when Tony Stark tackled the problem of a low-observable or stealth suit, the odd sculpted angles of the 117A Stealth fighter weren't very practical, so he had to go one better: force fields that render Iron Man electronically invisible.

Stark employed force field technology, enveloping his suit in a series of antimodal points of energy. On top pf this he injects a layer of low-density plasma, which is held in place with a focused magnetic field. The resultant tripole wave form assumes a pointed, softly rounded shape, which reflects radar very nicely. Finally, a wave modifier bends the radar around Iron Man.

Now electronically invisible, his only "give-away" was his jet exhaust, which left him detectable via his heat signature. Iron Man's exhaust attains a temperature of 700 degrees F at a distance of 10 feet. To quash any detectable infrared signature, Shellhead's exhaust is "washed" by bursts of super-cooled air. Since the suit's already have micro-turbine assisted air liquificaion devices (to provide breathing air and to cool the suit), Stark beefed them up for his Stealth Armor. He also put in twice as many as his normal armors. And viola! While in flight, a ring of super cool air (at -179 degree F) surrounds the exhaust and cools it down. And as if all this wasn't enough, Iron Man is rendered nearly silent due to the dampening effects of advanced micro-baffles in his boots.

The Stealth Armor also has built-in counter-measures. Ocassionally radar picks up stray reflective signals, allowing opponents to lock-on to IM. If this occurs, a small chaff dispenser in the right boot cuff pops up and releases a burst-spread of glittering aluminize Mylar. These projectiles halt in mid-air, floating, the perfect radar reflecting/returning target, which enemy systems then target and home in on.

Of course, one of the problems with having an ionization layer around your suit is that radio waves can't enter or exit the field. But ever the genius, Stark countered this by including an extendable "flying" antenna. The ultra-low frequency antenna, a long, flexible cord, is on a reel in the right hip pod. Unreeled, the ULF antenna extends beyond the field, allowing communication.

Special featrue on this suit: A Sonic Scan Probe, stored in the right boot cuff, can emmit ultra-frequency waves, when stuck into the ground, it allows Shellhead to penetrate the ground or a fortress. A Scan Reciever in his left epaulet (with a retractable antenna) allows the probe to relay information back to the armor, giving Shellhead resolution capable of seeing the tiniest pebble.

Other features include: X ray Scan; and an Autocamera for surveillance; Chaff bomblette pack (counter measure).

Armaments: Model X, Mark I has no active weaponry.

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"Love me, love my mullet."

A later model, seen in issue 229, Model X, Mark II, was built in Tony's "tinkering" lab beneath his oceanside home.

A totally new suit of armor (made neccessary by the fact that all of Tony's armors were sent to the bottom of the ocean when he became a drunk), it features many of the advancements of the Silver Centurion Armor, Model XII, but it's much slimmer and more maneuverable. Weaker than most armor's, the model is vulnerable to armor-piercing bullets but it does have the capability to function in both underwater and outer space for short periods.

Like the previous model, the space inside the armor was needed for Stark's incredible radar-bending stealth modules, so some of Iron Man's standard functions and applications were left out. But unlike the first Mark, this version of the Stealth Armor contains repulsors (connected to a greatly pared down weapons system. Iron Man only has enough energy for three repulsor blasts). Space was in such short supply that to fit in the weapons, computing power was trimmed. The Stealth Armor has only minimal CPU hardware, a reduced-instruction-set computer for housekeeping duties only. Tony also had to slim down his communications array. While he retained a two-way receiver, Stark had to ditch his FM radio (making long flights tiresome). In addition, IM only had room for two negator packs in his small storage bins.

What the armor lacks in strength and firepower, it makes up for with guile. The exterior of the Mark II suit was crafted from an alloy mesh weaved with prismatic fibers. The resulting surface alters the way light reflects off of it. Operating on similar principles this is a limited version of his Chameleon Mode (on the Model XII armor), which caused IM to blend in to his surroundings. This cloaking device merely changes the armor's exterior color (turning him white, for example). While not full-proof, it is effective.

Other known features: The armor contains a multi-frequency scanner.

Special feature on this suit: Model X, Mark II utilizes a nifty rocket booster for intercontinental travel (made neccessary by the rather limited nature of the stealth construction). This saves Shellhead fuel and energy.

Armaments: 40mm Low Power Omnibeam, 25mm Low Power Palm Repulsors.

Another version was used in Iron Man Annual 13. Because there appears to have been some return to the non-weapons design of the Mark I, this armor must be regarded as Model X, Mark III. Despite the loss of Repulsors, the armor does include a Unibeam and ECM Scramblers. Visual perception--what us mere mortals might regard as "sight"--was improved with enhanced photon valve vision gear in the eye pieces.

Stark improved his stealth technology dramatically with an entirely new suit built for taking on the Black Panther: The Plastic Ghost Armor.

This page is copyright 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 Tim Rassbach.

Iron Man and all associated characters are the property of Marvel Comics.

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