Video Shows Soldiers Flying in "Iron Man" Jet Suits Above Navy Ship
A surprising viral video shows British soldiers strapped to jet packs flying around a ship, Iron Man style. The clip has drawn delighted reactions online, and plenty of questions. How do these things work? Are they being used by the military now? Can anyone buy one? Read on to find out.
The video, posted by Gravity Industries, shows people zipping around the HMS Tamar, a Royal Navy Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol ship, looking very much like Tony Hawk. Business Insider reports that the marines were testing a "jet suit" created by Gravity to conduct a "visit, board, search, and seizure" operation or VBSS. People are seen launching themselves out of an inflatable boat behind the larger ship, then landing on the tanker's deck. Keep reading to learn more and see the video.
The jet suit is still in the experimental stages, but it is intended "is to provide extremely rapid access to any part of the target vessel, instantly freeing up hands to bear a weapon, and even retaining the capability to relocate on target or self-exfiltrate," Gravity Industries said in a press release. "This is increasingly seen as a revolution in tactical capability for many special forces and has much broader application beyond Maritime boarding."
In the video, a tester is seen landing on the ship's deck via jet pack and pulling out a ladder. After the ladder is secured, the person pulls out a gun. Experts told Insider that VBSS missions are complex and dangerous and often require special equipment to execute successfully.
But the British military hasn't yet pulled out the checkbook. The Royal Navy said the jet suits are "undoubtedly impressive," but experts have determined it is not ready for adoption by the armed forces. Trial sponsor Lt. Col. Will Clarke, RM, said "it shows significant promise and we will watch its development with continued interest."
Popular Mechanics reported that a number of armies in the west are experimenting with jet pack technology, and a similar suit was used in a recent NATO exercise. The Gravity suit is powered by five micro-turbine engines—two on each arm and one on the pilot's back—that generate 1,050 horsepower, giving the pilot a top speed of 56 miles per hour. The company says the suit can produce more than 12,000 feet of vertical lift. It runs on jet fuel, diesel, or kerosene. Last month, Gravity Industries founder Richard Browning demonstrated one of the company's jet packs for an amused Chicago crowd. IFL Science reports that the company will make you a custom jet pack and train you how to use it. The price tag: A mere $438,000.