For years, military science fiction has envisioned fantastical tech for soldiers to use in the distant future, from suits of powered armor to advanced weapons. Richard Browning, the inventor and CEO behind Gravity Industries, recently took his jet suit for a spin over the UK Royal Commando’s Commando Training Center in Lympstone, Devon.
Browning — a former Royal Marine reservist — started up his company in 2017, and has been showing off his jet suit since then. The suit, named the Daedalus Mark 1, uses six tiny jet engines — two mounted on the wearer’s back, with an additional two mounted on each arm — which allows the user to fly through the air in a controlled flight.
I saw Browning demonstrate his suit a couple of years ago at San Diego Comic Con, after taking part in an aptly-named panel “The State of Iron Man Tech.” The suit certainly looks like something out of a Marvel movie — Browning jetted up and down a street, aided by a helmet equipped with a heads up display that provides him with some flight data and fuel usage.
According to the British Royal Navy, Browning stopped by the training center to show off the suit before soldiers, flying over a training obstacle course. This doesn’t appear to have been an audition to begin equipping British soldiers with their own jet packs, but it’s not hard to see that there could be military applications for such a device, which allow users considerable speed and freedom of movement.
Should the day come that they’re pressed into military service, there would obviously be some kinks that would need to be worked out, like noise and flight time. In 2019, it’s an impressive demonstration, and something that will likely remain a staple of military science fiction — for now.