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Jet Suit Testing by the British Royal Navy and Gravity Industries

Ever since Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when Boba Fett busts his jet suit on Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge during the Battle of the Great Pit of Carkoon, well, this writer was hooked.

The PreCrime unit used jet packs to capture the Tom Cruise character, John Anderton,
who is on the lamb for a precrime he did not commit,  in 2002’s Minority Report.
Source:  AFP

Jet packs have since been depicted in media and sci-fi, most notably in the dystopian scenario of Spielberg’s 2002 Minority Report (an adaptation of a 1956 science fiction novella by Philip K. Dick).  The Guardian offers this thorough history of jet packs.

Technological fact now mirrors science fiction, as the British Royal Navy has recently been testing jet suit technology to board ships.  A new video (above) was recently released by the UK-based Gravity Industries, which manufactures the jet suit technology.  The tests were conducted over three days on the HMS Tamar, a Royal Navy Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol ship and, according to the Business Insider, “Royal Marines used Gravity Industries’ Jet Suit to conduct a ‘visit, board, search, and seizure’ operation or VBSS. Basically, a marine launched from a fast boat tailing the HMS Tamar flew through the air like a slightly askew Iron Man, and landed on the larger ship, dropping a’ rope below so their fast boat buddies could climb up and ‘visit’ the simulated enemy vessel.”

The jet suit design has evolved over the years, as “the suit seems to have been streamlined since these earlier demonstrations, featuring smaller arm rockets and a sleeker backpack jet more fitting for whatever sci-fi movie vibe Gravity Industries seems to be cultivating.” (1)  The technology has potential in various use cases.

If interested, here are a few more interesting jet suit test videos in a variety of operational environments:

Latest Flight Testing by Gravity Industries

Dutch Maritime Special Operations Force (SOF) Boarding Exercise

Paramedic Mountain Rescue: by the Great North Air Ambulance, a UK charity that rescues people from mountain ranges and a variety of other emergency scenarios in Northern England.

Flying the Royal Marines Assault Course – The CEO of Gravity Industries on a test run.

Aircraft Carrier Ambush

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Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira

Daniel Pereira is research director at OODA. He is a foresight strategist, creative technologist, and an information communication technology (ICT) and digital media researcher with 20+ years of experience directing public/private partnerships and strategic innovation initiatives.