Dunno really

Rocket suits could be worn by Royal Navy sailors to ambush rival ships, the Defence Secretary has suggested.

Gavin Williamson enthused about the potential of jetpack-propelled marine units after seeing a flying demonstration at a base in Portsmouth, where he unveiled a £75 million fund for new technology.

Ship to ship encounters tend to take place over the horizon from each other what with missiles etc. Be a heck of a jet pack which manages that.

22 comments on “Dunno really

  1. Williamson seems like a 5-year old in a toyshop in this role. He’s made some crass statements too. Supporting Cressida Dumb when she wanted the military on the streets fighting knife crime was pretty stupid.

  2. Almost any new military technology that incorporates humans into its design is pretty much pants and old hat now. Nothing a human jet pack could do that that a snazzy drone couldn’t do better – and not put someone’s life at risk. War’s going robotic.

  3. Perhaps they could be used to take back control of merchant ships from pirates? A distributed attack would have more chance than a concentrated attack using ribs. The problem is that the attacking force wouldn’t have control of their weapons because they need their arms for flying, so couldn’t put down suppression fire and would be flying ducks.

    “Rocket suits could be worn by Royal Navy sailors to ambush rival ships, the Defence Secretary has suggested.”

    If the Defence Secretary doesn’t know that role belongs to the Royal Marines he should be sacked, that’s as bad as Karen Bradley’s ignorance of NI politics.

    “Some of the devices can be controlled using little more than an iPad.”

    Another arts graduate in awe of technology.

  4. Maximum respect to Keith Mill’s merry band of marines back in 82, but the Boy Wonder is off his nut on this one

  5. “Perhaps they could be used to take back control of merchant ships from pirates?”

    I think that’s what they’re talking about, yes. Boarding smugglers, or cargo ships full of illegal immigrants, that sort of thing.

    They currently do things like fast-roping down from helicopters, which is a pretty expensive way to do it. There’s certainly a real problem there they’d like to solve, although I agree that this is just a snazzy concept demo to impress the press, and drum up publicity.

    And I think it may be the journalist who doesn’t know he was talking about Royal Marines.

  6. Am I the only person who is getting fed up with the ‘side splitting’ humour of April Fools jokes in the press?

  7. “Ship to ship encounters tend to take place over the horizon from each other what with missiles etc”

    Actually ship-to-ship encounters tend not to happen these days (at least not where there’s any parity of force). The only US Navy ship left that has actually sunk an enemy is the USS Constitution, which is made of wood and powered by sails but still technically on the active list, and there’s little or nothing still active in any other navies either – it’s been such a long time since there have been any proper ship-to-ship actions.

    I’d go with BiS’s theory first, then BiND’s.

  8. Victory’s still on the RN list, no? I recall years ago – on day out from prep school so decades – Pops was in RN Captain’s uniform and he took me to see Victory. Got piped aboard which he’d forgotten would happen and was very embarrassed about.

    Think I recall that correctly.

  9. To introduce a note of boring reality, the jet pack from James Bond and the LA Olympics has a fifteen second burn. The pilot plans a ten second flight with five seconds in hand for emergencies. The limiting factor is the amount of fuel that can be carried so there isn’t much scope for improvement.

    However, a bunch of jetpack equiped marines dropping on board a commandeered ship, k-bar between the teeth, would make a great scene in a movie.

  10. They currently do things like fast-roping down from helicopters, which is a pretty expensive way to do it.

    I don’t know when the Royal Marines last boarded a captured ship like that. I do know that when they were taking over oil tankers breaking the sanctions on Iraq around 2000-2002 they’d race up in a RIB, hook a ladder over the side, and climb aboard. I’ve got a pile of photos and videos of them doing this.

  11. What TimN says, helicopters are too easily taken out by small arms fire, let alone an RPG.

    I’ve watched them dropping ribs in to the water from helicopters and then going on to land, followed by extraction by picking up the ribs by helicopter in Studland Bay. I think this allows the ships to stand a bit further off shore.

    Perhaps Jason will have time to tell us the latest thinking.

  12. “I don’t know when the Royal Marines last boarded a captured ship like that.”

    Me neither. But they seem to be practising it here for some reason:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/cornwall/hi/people_and_places/newsid_9385000/9385385.stm

    “To introduce a note of boring reality, the jet pack from James Bond and the LA Olympics has a fifteen second burn. The pilot plans a ten second flight with five seconds in hand for emergencies. The limiting factor is the amount of fuel that can be carried so there isn’t much scope for improvement.”

    Says about 10 minutes here.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daedalus_Flight_Pack

    And that the guy who invented it is a Royal Marines Reservist. Presumably he had an application like this in mind.

  13. Me neither. But they seem to be practising it here for some reason:

    Well, yeah. The paras still practice parachute jumping, a method which hasn’t delivered large numbers of troops into combat since Suez IIRC.

    A friend of mine in the Royal Marines told me last summer their role is in many ways PR these days, although not in a cynical sense.

  14. Nevetheless, boarding a ship at sea fast and safely in the face of resistance is still a problem. Like I said, this is obviously a concept demonstrator, not an operational system, and I think was more PR stunt for the press than anything else. But no, it’s not an April Fool, and yes, the military are seriously interested in exploring novel ideas for getting on board ships fast.

    This may be of interest to some. It talks about how the Americans do it.

  15. Last RN ship-to-ship action I can think of was 1982, when HMS Alacrity took out the coastal transport ARA Islas de los Estados – she was running aviation fuel to the Falklands, didn’t stop when challenged, and made a very good 4.5″ SURFEX target.

    The USN took out an Iranian missile boat (the Joshan) in 1988; it approached a US surface action group, fired a Harpoon at them when challenged, and won a ragged salvo of Standard SAMs fired in surface-to-surface mode in return, plus a Harpoon anti-ship missile that… er… missed, because there was so little left of the Joshan above the waterline by the time it arrived. (The hulk was sunk with gunfire)

    HMS Gloucester knocked out several Iraqi missile boats in 1991 during the Battle of Bubiyan, but that was all with her Lynx helicopter with Sea Skua missiles: despite ‘Gloria’ Wilcox’s best efforts she wasn’t able to get into gunnery range, depriving her of a battle honour.

    As to boarding, the RM retain the ability to either land by, or rope down from, a helicopter: typically with a second cab in overwatch with a Marine sniper team and/or the observer with a M3M heavy machine gun (1,000rpm of .50″ multipurpose ammunition…) covering them.

    However, boarding ops are more often done on an escalating scale, from “compliant” (target ship is behaving, cross over by RHIB, no opposition or problems expected) to “semi-compliant” (two RHIBs, one covering while the other boards; Wildcat helo up and covering if a bit more deterrence seems sensible) to “opposed” (which is very specialist stuff – helicopter and sniper cover to get defenders’ heads down if not off, fast’n’hard boarding by helicopter or assault ladders, ship close enough to be covering with 30mm, tends to be done by Special People for Special Problems)

    A fellow reservist who’s got a clasp on his TELIC medal (he was there for the 2003 warfighting, I had a nice safe office job in 2005) was aboard a RFA doing boarding ops just before the fighting kicked off: they were the only RN/RFA ship to fire shots in that part of the scrap, when they hailed a mildly suspicious dhow; it didn’t heave to, so Black Rover called a QUICKDRAW and fired a burst of GPMG as a Shot Across The Bow. The crew leapt into a skiff and sped off, and a Greek frigate bustled up signalling that they had this, they’d send their elite commandos across to search the dhow… which led to the awkward moment as their helicopter came into the hover above the dhow (heavily loaded – fuel smuggler, probably) and the downwash tilted it over enough that a gunwhale dipped below the waves, and the dhow filled, rolled on her beam ends and sank while the first Very Special Greek black-pyjama-ninja type was still kicking their rope out of the helo door…

  16. A fellow reservist who’s got a clasp on his TELIC medal (he was there for the 2003 warfighting, I had a nice safe office job in 2005) was aboard a RFA doing boarding ops just before the fighting kicked off:

    He’d almost certainly know my friend who have me all the photos.

  17. “Rival” ships???

    What, they have prettier names or shinier paint on the gun barrels or sexier helicopters or whut???

    Eeek.

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