The Royal Marines Commandos have been working with the Sussex-based jet suit company Gravity Industries to develop jet packs that can be used to move between ships, shorelines, or to board suspicious vessels.
A training demonstration was carried out by former Royal Marine Reservists from the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The test run was a part of the Anglo-American defence conference in New York. A video produced shows two sailors flying over the harbour in jet packs before landing back on the Royal Navy warship.
The suits, nicknamed “real-life Iron Man” suits, use 1000bhp of jet engine power to transport the sailors over the sea.
In the current design, the suits are fitted with two micro-turbine engines on each arm and one additional engine on the back which allows the wearer to manage a speed of about 90km/h and a height of about 12,000 feet.
With a price tag of $400,000, the company’s current business model remains focused on corporate and military use.
Gravity Industries chief test pilot and inventor of the jet packs Richard Browning said: “The team and I are delivering on the vision to build Gravity into a world-class aeronautical engineering business, challenge perceived boundaries in human aviation, and inspire a generation to ask ‘what if’”.
In his previous service in the British Royal Marines, Richard Browning flew a 5-engine jet pack around a British battleship in 2020, however, the suits are still in the experimental stage.
Gravity Industries reported that the design is continuously being re-evaluated to make improvements to its performance.
“The vision 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.”
The suits are seen as a ‘revolution in tactical capability’ and have ‘broader application beyond maritime boarding’.
Lieutenant Colonel Will Clarke RM, who is a sponsor of the trial, said the suit “shows significant promise and we will watch its development with continued interest.”
In May 2021, another jet pack demonstration was carried about by the Royal Marines. The demonstration was to showcase the alternative boarding technique as opposed to fast-roping from a helicopter.
Outside military use, in September 2020, jet packs were tested by the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) after a year of talks between GNAAS and Gravity Industries.