The Royal Navy is eyeing jetpacks for amphibious assaults, which is a terrible idea

Military Tech

In late July, Royal Marine reservist turned inventor Richard Browning conducted a short test of his jet-powered Daedalus Mark 1 exoskeleton from the Royal Navy's HMS Dasher (P280

(Gravity Industries)

The future of flying soldiers just took one more turbine-assisted leap towards becoming a reality — maybe.


In late July, Royal Marine reservist turned inventor Richard Browning conducted a short test of his jet-powered Daedalus Mark 1 exoskeleton from the Royal Navy's HMS Dasher (P280), launching from the patrol using his six-turbine rig and training vessel to a smaller rubber motorboat before circling the two.

"Being in command of Dasher while the Gravity Industries team were onboard was very different and a new challenge which I was honored to take on," Lieutenant Lauren Webber said in a statement. "Taking off and landing on the P2000 [Archer-class vessel] look so easy, despite the ship traveling at 20 knots."

Royal Navy P280 Dasher Jet Suit Landing youtu.be

This isn't Browning's first jetpack confab with the Royal Navy. In May, personnel from 539 Assault Squadron, 1 Assault Group Royal Marines (1AGRM) — the training unit responsible for small boat amphibious and riverine operations — tested out the Daedalus jetpack as part of its mission to reimagine the future of amphibious assaults.

"This has been about exploring how we can take surface [maneuver] forward and all the different technologies that are out there," as 1AGRM's commanding officer Col. Chris Haw told Maritime Executive at the time.

Browning's work with the Royal Navy in the 1AGRM and Dasher suggests a focus on applying jetpack technology to amphibious operations, but the concept has been explored before. While U.S. military planners have long sought personal flight capabilities for warfighters, Bell Aerospace in 1967 proposed a backpack-style Light Mobility Systems jetpack system explicitly for amphibious assaults.

A photoillustration of Bell's proposed Light Mobility Systems in action(Bell Aerosystems)

Developed during the height of the Vietnam War, the concept detailed in Bell's LMS proposal was fairly simple: beyond reconnaissance, swarms of jet-powered Marines could flit over enemy beaches, conducting raids on vulnerable positions and even blasting psychological warfare messages. But the fatal shortfall of the system is equally as simple: flying soldiers are easy targets

"In every depiction of the system, flying soldiers are terribly exposed to enemy fire," as Kyle Mizokami put it in Popular Mechanics in 2018. "Bell did this to show the jetpack's relevance to the battlefield on the ground, but by doing so it emphasized LMS' weakness, showing jetpack soldiers as easy targets silhouetted against a blue sky. In a real war, soldiers with LMS would be the first ones to get shot at, negating any advantage of the platform."

A photoillustration of Bell's proposed Light Mobility Systems in action(Bell Aerosystems)

This problem has only increased since Vietnam as the high costs imposed by the development of advanced anti-access/area denial capabilities and the reduction in naval capabilities have rendered amphibious assaults all but obsolete. Indeed, then-Commandant Gen. Neller stated in 2018 that the U.S. Marine Corps was developing a new concept called Expeditionary Advance Base Operations to adapt to the new era of so-called "great power competition.'

So no, don't expect rocket-powered Marines flooding over enemy beachheads, but Browning's latest test is definitely a major boost for the Daedalus system over other potential competitors: According to Army Recognition, Browning's successful test came one week after Franky Zapata, the French inventor who previously wowed spectators at the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris aboard his Flyboard Air "hoverboard," failed to cross the English Channel aboard his platform.





The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.

Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.

"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.

"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.

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Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The U.S. Army's Next Generation Squad Weapon effort looked a lot more possible this week as the three competing weapons firms displayed their prototype 6.8mm rifles and automatic rifles at the 2019 Association of the United States Army's annual meeting.

Just two months ago, the Army selected General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems inc., Textron Systems and Sig Sauer Inc. for the final phase of the NGSW effort — one of the service's top modernization priorities to replace the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units.

Army officials, as well as the companies in competition, have been guarded about specific details, but the end result will equip combat squads with weapons that fire a specially designed 6.8mm projectile, capable of penetrating enemy body armor at ranges well beyond the current M855A1 5.56mm round.

There have previously been glimpses of weapons from two firms, but this year's AUSA was the first time all three competitors displayed their prototype weapons, which are distinctly different from one another.

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The Minot Air Force Base main gate (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Air Force is investigating reports that an airman consumed marijuana while assigned to one of the highly-sensitive missile alert facility (MAF) responsible for overseeing Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

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