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Soon stealth jetpacks on the battlefield?

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An agency of the United States Department of Defense recently launched a rather astonishing call for projects. It is indeed a question of using jetpacks in a military setting. These devices could allow soldiers to infiltrate enemy territories, or even to carry out rescue operations.

Use in a military setting

The jetpack (or jetpack) is a portable device allowing its user to take off, steer and and land completely autonomously. For a long time, these machines were only fantasized in works of science fiction, but they do exist now. Despite some progress, current devices have low battery life and are rather heavy and bulky. Their use is not yet ergonomic and therefore not interesting from a military point of view.

Despite these drawbacks, DARPA – an agency of the United States Department of Defense is very interested in jetpacks. Proof is one recent call for projects open to all, offering the possibility of proposing innovative research concepts. The goal ? Study the feasibility of a “Personal and portable air mobility system”. The call for projects takes effect on March 16, 2021 and will end on April 20.

Currently existing jetpacks are not viable for military use.
Credits: Unveiling of Martin Jetpack / Wikipedia

It appears that DARPA is keen to explore the issue widely. For example, jetpacks don’t have to be reusable. These can also take off from the ground or be dropped from the air. In addition, the shape can be revisited, for example taking the appearance of a wingsuit, a glider or a kind of parachute.

An obvious tactical interest

However, DARPA has also communicated its many demands. The system in question should fly for at least 5 km and be transportable by one man – or a small workforce. It should also be deployable in ten minutes or less with few tools, if at all. In addition, the device will have to overcome environmental prerequisites such as altitude, wind force, etc. In addition, DARPA requires that the device can be used in a manner that is effective without too much training.

Considering the agency’s requirements and the level of current jetpacks, there is no doubt that the US military will have to wait a while before receiving a device that meets its expectations. In any case, the tactical interest of a high-performance jetpack seems obvious. Dropped from the air, it could quickly find itself behind enemy lines. By taking off from the ground, it could allow troops to cross major obstacles (watercourses, buildings, etc.). Finally, the device could prove to be effective in the context of rescue operations in places that are potentially difficult to access.


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