Elite special forces troops being dropped behind enemy lines on covert
missions are to ditch their traditional parachutes in favour of strap-on stealth
The lightweight carbon fibre mono-wings will allow them to jump from high altitudes
and then glide 120 miles or more before landing - making them almost impossible
to spot, as their aircraft can avoid flying anywhere near the target.
The technology was demonstrated in spectacular fashion three years ago when
Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner - a pioneer of freefall gliding - famously
'flew' across the English Channel, leaping out of an aircraft 30,000ft above
Dover and landing safely near Calais 12 minutes later.
Wearing an aerodynamic suit, and with a 6ft wide wing strapped to his back,
he soared across the sea at 220mph, moving six feet forward through the air
for every one foot he fell vertically - and opened his parachute 1,000ft above
the ground before landing safely.
Now military scientists have realised the massive potential for secret military
Currently special forces such as the SAS rely on a variety of parachute techniques
to land behind enemy lines - or else they must be dropped by helicopter.
Existing steerable square parachutes can be used - opened at high altitude
of 27,000 ft - but jumpers then have to struggle to control them for long periods,
often in high winds and extreme cold, while breathing from an oxygen tank to
Alternatively they can freefall from high altitude, opening their parachutes
at the last possible minute, but that limits the distance they can 'glide' forward
from the drop point to just a few miles.
Now German company ESG has developed the strap-on rigid wing specifically for
special forces use.
Resembling a 6ft-wide pair of aircraft wings, the devices should allow a parachutist
to glide up to 120miles, carrying 200lb of equipment, the manufacturers claim.
Fitted with oxygen supply, stabilisation and navigation aides, troops wearing
the wings will jump from a high-altitude transport aircraft which can stay far
away from enemy territory - or on secret peacetime missions could avoid detection
or suspicion by staying close to commercial airliner flight paths.
The manufacturers claim the ESG wing is '100 per cent silent' and 'extremely
difficult' to track using radar.
Once close to their target landing zone, the troops pull their parachute rip
cord to open their canopy and then land normally.
Weapons, ammunition, food and water can all be stowed inside the wing, although
concealing the 6ft wings after landing could prove harder than burying a traditional
ESG claims the next stage of development will be fitting 'small turbo-jet drives'
to the wings to extend range even further.
According to SAS insiders, very few operational parachute jumps have taken
place in recent years, with teams tending to rely more on helicopters or other
means of transport.
Supporters of the new mono-wing technology hope it will give a new lease of
life to parachute tactics in the special forces world.
The Ministry of Defence would not comment on any equipment used by special
forces, but is expected to evaluate the new system for use by UK special forces.
Read from Looking Glass News
Meet Our New Stormtroopers
Military creating 'Rods from God"
Drone aircraft may prowl U.S. skies
US to test 700-tonne explosive
U.S. military plans to make insect cyborgs
Pentagon Develops Brain Implants to Turn Sharks into Military Spies
DRONES "TO FLY OVER CITIES"
The Suicide Machine
Attack of the drones
Beam weapons almost ready for battle
HELLADS: Lightweight Laser Cannon
"Eyes in the sky" for homeland security