It’s 2021, and although I thought by now there would be flying cars, cities on the moon and the ability to teleport from my bed to my couch instead of walking, I guess I’ll settle for a jet pack, or as DARPA is calling it, a “Portable Personal Air Mobility System.”
According to a solicitation first reported by Task & Purpose, “These platforms could serve a variety of military missions, enabling cost effective mission utility and agility in areas such as personnel logistics [and] urban augmented combat.”
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that the U.S. military has considered affixing a rocket or wings to the backs of service members and shooting them into the atmosphere. In 2019, Special Operations Command sought to develop “individual lift devices” and found a partner to make it happen.
California-based JetPack Aviation is working on an ILD turbine engine system that is expected to carry special operators 200 miles an hour, for up to 10 minutes, so they can fly from base to battle, hair whipping and lips flapping in the wind. Exhilarating.
Luckily, the DARPA request also gives me some hope that a system for civilians could one day follow, particularly this line: “When deployed, the platform will be designed with simplified operations in mind, so that someone unfamiliar with the platform could be educated in its safe and effective use with relatively little training.”
Is there anything more American than a bunch of untrained hooligans attempting to commute via sky to their offices post-COVID?
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.