We first learned about UK inventor Richard Browning and his jet-powered prototype suit about four years ago. He built the prototype for more than $50,000 in his own garage. It looked risky as it placed six kerosene-fueled micro gas turbines to his arms and back. Shortly thereafter, in April 2017, Browning founded Gravity Industries and his jetsuit has come a long way.
This week, Gravity Industries posted a video of a recent maritime boarding operation test with the Royal Marines, the UK's commando force and the Royal Navy's amphibious troops. The footage is incredible.
The Gravity JetSuit uses more than 1,000 bhp (brake horsepower) and is steered by human balance.
In the first test, a pilot lifts off of a fast-moving rib boat using a jetsuit and lands on the HMS Tamar, a river-class offshore patrol vessel of the Royal Navy. In the simulation, the pilot hooked up a caving ladder to the side of the vessel to help the marines board the vessel. In the second test, the pilot takes off from the P233, lands on the rib boat and then heads back to the vessel. The balance required to land on that rib boat is nearly as impressive as the balance it takes to fly the suit. In the final test, three separate pilots boarded the P233 at different locations.
Without a jetsuit, marines would likely board the vessel using a helicopter and fast roping one at a time. It’s a slow process that leaves the marines vulnerable. According to Gravity, the jetsuit is faster and frees up the hands to hold a weapon after they land. The company also notes how a pilot can relocate to a different target on the ship and exfiltrate or extract themselves from the mission. But if you’re going to hold a weapon, you’ve got to drop the rockets you use to fly.
According to the company, the jetsuit has also been tested by paramedics in a remote part of England to reach people in distress much faster than using a car.
Since its launch, Gravity has executed more than 100 live flights and are scaling towards an International Race Series.
Browning is a former BP oil trader and Royal Marines reservist. I’ll admit, at first his jetsuit seemed like an interesting prototype if not a potentially explosive idea, but after years of hard work this is the closest to a real life Iron Man that I have ever seen.