In May 2021, British Royal Marine Commandos flew jet packs off Royal Navy ships at sea. The Commandos tested the jets’ viability for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore short trips.
The Royal Navy has said that while the jet packs, which are built by Gravity Industries Inc., are not currently in the inventory while in the trial phase, the technology could be very advantageous in the near future to help the Commandos with maritime boarding and search and rescue operations. Specifically, they could be used to replace fast-roping from helicopters.
Gravity Industries also recently tested the jets around New York’s harbor. According to company owner Richard Browning, six special operations units already collaborate with his company on the jet packs, which he refers to as “suits.”
Unlike the pie-in-the-sky Iron Man or TALOS suit that SOCOM tried for over a decade for special operation troops, the jet packs are already being built — and they work.
“When you’re assaulting a ship coming from a ship to a beach trying to get to a hilltop… trying to outflank an enemy position. All of those things become super fast without depending on a helicopter,” Browning told CBS News in July.
An exoskeleton and gas turbines
The jet pack/exoskeleton suit has four mini-gas turbine engines, two on each arm and a fifth strapped to the pilot’s back. It produces about 1,000 pounds of thrust and can fly the pilot at about 85 miles per hour and reach an altitude of 12,000 feet. However, currently, it only has a flight time of about five minutes.
“We can now move individual special forces, soldiers, in a very, very nimble way where trying to counter that becomes a real challenge,” Browning added.
The jet pack can run off aviation fuel, kerosene, or diesel.
It only remains to figure out if jet packs are viable options or whether an operator using them will be very vulnerable to gunfire, especially considering that the suits contain highly flammable fuel. Further, it remains to be seen whether companies can produce a model that will give the operators a range that can be utilized for actual live operations. SOCOM pulled the plug on the “Talos Suit” in 2019.
‘Star Wars’ speeder may be right around the corner
Another futuristic concept currently in development is being produced by Jetpack Aviation and looks like the speeder used by Luke Skywalker, in a pure case of life imitating art.
The U.S. Navy was looking for a vertical lift vehicle that they could use for the SEAL Teams and was working with Jetpack Aviation and owner David Mayman. His Speeder looks like a jet-powered motorcycle and has four jet-turbine engines at each corner of the vehicle. It runs on jet fuel.
“The [U.S. Navy] initially wanted something that would carry a payload of 210 pounds (95kg), not far into the project that morphed to nearly 300 pounds (135kg). And they wanted it to be possible to train somebody literally in 10 minutes,” Mayman said.
The vector of the four jet engines is controlled by the electronic flight control system. “It’s effectively [artificial intelligence] — if you want to call it that — that understands what the vehicle is going to need… so it can start instructing the engines to be spooling up or spooling down,” Mayman added.
Want to own a jet pack?
Gravity Industries is even marketing the jet pack to the rich and very rich. He recently conducted a test flight in Monaco, where he demonstrated the jetpack to people in their mega-yachts while wearing a tuxedo (ala James Bond). To buy a jetpack of your own will cost you about $400,000 while taking “the flight experience” at Gravity’s Flight Training Center in England will cost you only about $2,500.
Steve Balestrieri is a proven military analyst. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for Sandboxx.com, he has written for 19fortyfive.com and SOFREP.com; he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.
Feature Image: Gravity Industries’ jet packs in action. (Gravity Industries)