British Royal Marines explore possibility of storming a ship at sea with jet packs
The British military been exploring the possibility of boarding ships at sea with futuristic jet packs that let wearers fly over the water like Iron Man.
The “Jet Suit” was made by Gravity Industries. The company released a video Sunday that showed its operators wearing jet packs and working with the Royal Marines to launch from rigid inflatable boats and land aboard the Royal Navy Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol ship HMS Tamar.
The British Royal Navy said in a statement that while the trial involved Royal Marines, the commandos did not use the equipment, which remained in the hands of Gravity personnel.
Maritime boarding operations, which are also known as “visit, board, search, and seizure” operations, are challenging and have traditionally involved troops stealthily coming alongside a ship in a fast boat and hooking up a caving ladder or fast-roping from a helicopter onto the ship. They are often supported by airborne snipers and drones.
A former US Special Forces officer previously told Insider that “VBSS is one of the most complex and dangerous” maritime missions. He said it often required special equipment and training to execute effectively.
With a jet pack, a wearer can launch from a fast boat, land on a ship, and then drop a ladder that others can use to climb aboard. Operators can be seen doing exactly that in the video.
The jet suit is still experimental, but 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,” Gravity Industries said in its press release.
In the video, one user can be seen immediately disconnecting the arm-mounted jets and pulling out a ladder. After the ladder is secured, the individual pulls out what appears to be a handgun or similar weapon.
This is increasingly seen as a revolution in tactical capability for many special forces and has much broader application beyond Maritime boarding,” the company added.
The operations depicted in the video were part of a trial, and the British military has not yet made a decision on whether or not it will purchase this technology.
The Royal Navy stated that the jet suit technology is “undoubtedly impressive,” but experts have determined it is not ready for adoption by the armed forces. Trial sponsor Lt. Col. Will Clarke RM said that “it shows significant promise and we will watch its development with continued interest.
The new video from Gravity Industries is not the first time that people in jet suits have been seen flying around British ships. Last May, for instance, Gravity released a video of an operator flying from a fast boat onto a Royal Navy P2000 patrol boat during what the company called “assault trials.”
And about a week before that video came out, Gravity released another video showing someone wearing a jet suit flying around the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and practicing intercepting civilian vessels sailing nearby.
The new video from Gravity comes just a few weeks after the company released footage from a maritime boarding training exercise with the Netherlands Maritime Special Operations Forces.
Outside of the armed forces, paramedics with Britain’s Great North Air Ambulance Service have looked into using jet suits for remote rescue operations, as the suits allow medical personnel to reach someone in distress in a hard-to-reach area much faster than they might otherwise be able to by other means.