Special forces take wing

Sept. 14, 2006
Elite special forces landing behind enemy lines could someday ditch traditional parachutes in favor of strap-on "stealth" wings.

Wearing carbon-fiber monowings, paratroopers could glide 120 miles before landing.

Lightweight carbon-fiber monowings could let troops jump from high altitudes and glide 120 miles or more before landing, thus allowing transport aircraft to avoid detection.

The technology was first demonstrated three years ago when Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner "flew" across the English Channel. He leaped out of an aircraft 30,000 ft above Dover, landing safely near Calais 12 min later. Wearing an aerodynamic suit and a 6-ft-wide wing strapped to his back, he soared across the Channel at 220 mph, moving 6 ft horizontally for every foot he fell vertically. He opened his parachute 1,000 ft above the ground.

Currently, special forces such as Britain's SAS rely on a variety of parachute techniques to land behind enemy lines. Steerable parachutes open at 27,000 ft but jumpers must then struggle to control them for long periods, often in high winds and extreme cold, while breathing from an oxygen tank. With monowings, forces descend in about onethird of the time required for parachutes.

Alternatively, they can freefall from high altitude, opening their chutes at the last possible minute, but that limits the distance they can glide to just a few miles.

The manufacturer, ESG Elektroniksystem und Logistik GmbH, Munich, claims its wing is almost completely silent and extremely difficult to track using radar. Weapons, ammunition, food, and water stow inside the wing, but concealing the 6-ft wing after landing could prove harder than burying a traditional parachute.

Sponsored Recommendations

How BASF turns data into savings

May 7, 2024
BASF continuously monitors the health of 63 substation assets — with Schneider’s Service Bureau and EcoStruxure™ Asset Advisor. ►Learn More: https://www.schn...

Agile design thinking: A key to operation-level digital transformation acceleration

May 7, 2024
Digital transformation, aided by agile design thinking, can reduce obstacles to change. Learn about 3 steps that can guide success.

Can new digital medium voltage circuit breakers help facilities reduce their carbon footprint?

May 7, 2024
Find out how facility managers can easily monitor energy usage to create a sustainable, decarbonized environment using digital MV circuit breakers.

The Digital Thread: End-to-End Data-Driven Manufacturing

May 1, 2024
Creating a Digital Thread by harnessing end-to-end manufacturing data is providing unprecedented opportunities to create efficiencies in the world of manufacturing.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!