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Royal Marines trial use of jet suit for boarding operations

Royal Marines have tested the use of a jet suit for maritime boarding operations.

The trial saw patrol ship HMS Tamar and Royal Marines from Plymouth-based 42 and 47 Commando work with Gravity Industries to understand whether the company’s jet suit could be of use on military operations in the future.

Royal Marines did not use the equipment at any stage of the trial, and it was in the hands of Gravity Industries throughout the exercises in Plymouth Sound.

Marines use stealth and speed to board suspect vessels and are specialists in terrorist takedowns and anti-smuggling and piracy operations around the world.

The commandos work in small teams in fast raiding boats to board suspicious vessels with the help of maritime snipers in Wildcat helicopters and drones.

They are currently deployed on Royal Navy ships around the world and have had recent success in the Gulf with HMS Montrose, seizing £14m worth of drugs in operations so far this year.

The trial looked at the utility of the jet suit – which allows the user to fly – in maritime boarding operations and the specialist vertical access techniques associated to them.

While undoubtedly impressive, experts concluded that the kit is not ready just yet for military adoption.

“The flight suit technology tested in this trial allowed the Commando Force to experiment with innovative methods of conducting maritime interdiction operations, and to gain insights into its potential to enable vertical access in the complex urban-littoral environment,” said Lieutenant Colonel Will Clarke RM, the trial sponsor.

“Whilst the technology may not be ready for military adoption just now, it shows significant promise and we will watch its development with continued interest.

“Furthermore, the trial is a clear example of the diverse efforts being made to enhance the Commando Force with the latest technology and to give it a competitive advantage over future potential adversaries.”

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