We first reported on Richard Browning’s Daedalus jet suit in November 2017, when the Gravity founder and Royal Marine Commando (U.K.) veteran set a world record for air speed in a jet suit. Now Browning is back in the news after an electrifying demonstration of his jet suit at the Royal Marine Commando center in Lympstone, Devon where the 39-year-old inventor took on the assault course where he had once trained as a young commando.
“It’s been at least a decade since I was last at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, when I was being awarded my coveted green beret,” Browning was quoted as saying in a press release. “It is an absolute honour to be invited as a guest at the King’s Squad passout parade, but to be back tackling that assault course with one of our jet suits is a day I won’t ever forget.”
Browning’s suit, which weighs 59 lbs without liquid fuel, began as a series of kerosene-powered turbines strapped to his arms and legs, has since evolved to include five turbines that
generate 1050bhp with an altitude limit of 12,000 feet, according to Gravity’s spec sheet. While impressive, it seems unlikely that any user would attempt to achieve that altitude. As Newsrep notes, a flight-time of just 5 – 10 minutes and a fuel tank where a parachute would normally be all but eliminates the possibility of a safe, controlled landing.
Despite the site of this recent demonstration and Browning’s background, the Daedalus – at least in its current iteration – has other limitations that make combat applications impractical. First and foremost among them is the fact that because steering and navigation are controlled by turbines attached to the arms, the wearer cannot use his or her hands to operate a weapon. It comes down to someone in the suit being able to fly or fight, but not both at the same time. “Royal Marines are sometimes called ‘supermen’ for their achievements,”said Royal Marines Captain Oliver Mason, “but even we stop short at the ability to fly.”
Nevertheless, the Daedalus is a step in the right direction and, with the proper modifications, could usher in a new era of armor in modern warfare.