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Wearable Flight Systems May Soon Be Used By Special Forces Personnel: Jane’s (Photos and Video)


Wearable Flight Systems May Soon Be Used By Special Forces Personnel: Jane's (Photos and Video)

Gravity Industries Jet Suit. Click to see full-size image.

Wearable flight systems are apparently progressing and Special Operation Forces (SOF) may “soon” be equipped with such platforms, according to a report by Jane’s.

Reportedly, USSOCOM and French COS, both SOF components are considering jetpack technology.

“JetPack Aviation’s JB11 JetPack is being developed under a Co-operative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) signed in 2016 with US Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM’s) Naval Special Warfare Command (NSWC).”

While French DGA is studying Zapata’s Flyboard Air technology as a concept but is not yet considering such systems for operational use.

According to JetPack Aviation’s chief executive officer, David Mayman, the technology is being designed in collaboration with NSWC’s Development Group (DEVGRU).

Jane’s cited Mayman who said that he could not provide any significant details in connection to the concepts of operation (CONOPS) or tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPS) associated with this emerging technology but said “recent development has been related to the needs” of DEVGRU, the official name of a US Navy SEAL unit.

“By achieving the challenging goals under this agreement, we’ve proven that a small, powerful turbine-powered vehicle can efficiently, dependably, and safely meet rigorous operational demands of our nation’s most elite SOF [Special Operations Force] and industry partners,” JetPack Aviation said in a statement.

According to Mayman, training of US Navy Seals to operate the JB11 in tethered and free-flight modes was also included.

Jane’s reported that “the JB11, currently at Technology Readiness Level 7, comprises a six-engine solution. The turbine-powered, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) system relies on kerosene or diesel fuel, although a hydrogen-powered variant is also being considered for future development. Thrust is managed autonomously by a central processing unit.”

The system was designed with ‘rapid mount/dismount’ in mind and features an integrated parachute for emergencies.

The design parameters are also aimed at allowing the pilot to carry the jetpack unaided, and it will have a maximum endurance flight time of 15 minutes, and a maximum speed of 193 km/h, and a maximum range of 15 miles. While pilots must weigh less than 230 lb.

“We’ll be releasing a new vehicle, with substantially more potential use cases.  It is something that is creating quite a lot of interest from each arm of the US Department of Defense,” Mayman said.

Separately, Gravity Industries is developing its Jet Suit that utilizes 5 gas turbine engines capable of generating 1,050bhp and 144 kg of thrust to enable vertical lift and human propulsion.  Directional flight control is achieved by vectoring the arm engine thrust. Options for propulsion include diesel, kerosene, or jet fuel.

The first flight was performed in 2017, the Jet Suit has a maximum payload capacity of 85 kg, providing the pilot with a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour and a flight duration of up to 4 minutes, depending on conditions. The suit can also operate at altitudes up to 12,000 feet above ground level.

Founder of Gravity Industries and its chief tester Richard Browning told Jane’s that Jet Suit was shown to the UK Department of Defense, the US SEAL special forces and representatives of maritime special forces from an unnamed country in Southeast Asia.

Browning said that CONOPS and TTP are still being studied, and that possible uses for Jet Suit include moving individual fighters and small groups over “short distances in most weather conditions.”

Wearable Flight Systems May Soon Be Used By Special Forces Personnel: Jane's (Photos and Video)

Click to see full-size image

Wearable Flight Systems May Soon Be Used By Special Forces Personnel: Jane's (Photos and Video)

Zapata’s Flyboard. Click to see full-size image

On the French Side, on November 24th, 2018, the French Special Operations Command (COS) conducted an assessment of the Zapata Flyboard Aircraft technology as part of the Defense Innovations Forum in Paris in France.

According to the representative of the French Armed Forces, the demonstration was observed by the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parley, who suggested that the technology could be useful for COS units. In the course of the demonstration, the Flyboard Air carried one fighter with a carbine, who provided observation of the River Seine, while the marines landed from motorboats on the quay, demonstrating the release of prisoners.

According to the Zapata documentation, the pilot stands in flight on the Flyboard Air platform, which has six small turbojet engines. Flyboard Air has a top speed of 93 miles per hour; maximum working height of 5,000 feet above sea level; and a maximum flight duration of 10 minutes. The platform itself weighs a total of 25.1 kg, with a carrying capacity for transporting another 102 kg.

There were earlier reports of Zapata EZ-Fly jetpack technology from September 2018.

The project in which the EZ-Fly was tested was formally known as the Individual Aerial Mobility System (IAMS), began on August 22nd, 2018 and ran through October 24th.

“SOFWERX, along with Z-Air, developed and tested a training protocol to determine its efficacy for SOF operators, and to determine how quickly they could be trained to pilot the EZ-Fly,” the Florida-headquartered tech incubator said in an official fact sheet. “The trainees performed advanced skills assessments and were able to successfully pilot the EZ-Fly through a slalom course with three weeks of total training.”



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  • Barba_Papa

    Unless you’re a danger junkie there is no way in Hell you’re getting me on one of those flying hoverboards! And the way that dude in the video stuck like glue by hovering only over water seems like he wasn’t a complete happy camper either. When you’re in an aircraft of helicopter and it goes down there’s stuff to help you survive the crash. When something like this crashes its akin to crashing on a motor cycle on the highway with the added complications of height and gravity instead of only momentum.

    • Nosferatu

      For safety reasons special forces using this will be flying low….

  • We love our special forces don’t we. Just what we need, more toys for the guys that go in and kill everyone, no need for Green Berets who have language skills and actually interact with the local population.

    Not very stealthy, okay the first time you get shot at from the sky you are surprised but once everyone looks up into the sky the party is over. Not much cover up there.

  • John Whitehot

    while flying:

    1 – You can’t shoot at targets, at least not accurately
    2 – The amount of weight you can lift is limited.
    3 – Lots of chances to kill yourself falling, or slamming into something.
    4 – Imagine the helicopters coming at them at 300 kph and cutting them to ribbons with their rotors.

    but above all,
    5 – you make for the easiest target possible, no concealment, no cover.

    The idea may have some merit, but i’ve serious doubts that it may give any force an edge over any adversary that was already overwhelmingly weaker without this stroke of genius.

    • Has the feel of cool, EXPENSIVE, technology, looking for a problem to solve. Even if they hug the ground …
      6. What is its range, 7. what is its speed.
      If the range and speed was fast, the only possible application I can see is using a helicopter to get close to a target unseen and then closing in fast. Okay, I can also see it being used in rugged terrain to quickly infiltrate a mountain range. I’ll give them that but I don’t think it can handle wind shears all that well without killing everyone, that was even a problem for full sized helicopters in Afghanistan.

      • John Whitehot

        well put

  • RichardD

    The safety issue aside, it has applications, particularly at night. Noise is an issue though, they’re probably pretty loud, which takes away the element of surprise.

  • R PLobo

    This is a recruitment tool for tardes to join up to be zionist cannon fodder. As infantry the last thing you want is to be flying around like the Rocketeer during a battle.

  • Real Anti-Racist Action

    Automated laser anti-air systems would make excellent use of these flying targets.
    A single system could pry kill 50 flying people per minute. All without noise mind you, except for the persons 1 second scream and then the thud.

  • Carol Davidek-Waller

    All that weight and $$$$ for 15 minute flight as an easy sniper target. Boys and their toys vs. 40 million Americans on food stamps and crumbling infrastructure.

    • Luke Hemmming

      Yes my thoughts exactly. Starving families, homeless people, unfair medical system…but hey guys we got these GREAT flying machines…YEEEEEHAAAAAAA! Pfft gimme a break.

  • Sinbad2

    Does it keep flying after the pilot has been shot?

  • Sinbad2

    Better as a civilian tool, for search and rescue than as a weapon.
    The US military has created some interesting stuff that failed as weapons but have proved useful for peace, the Internet comes to mind.

  • Sinbad2