Special Forces technology is always a hotbed for innovations with new ideas and products cropping up all the time. One disruptive innovation is the Jeboots Diver Propulsion System (DPS) from Patriot 3 Maritime (P3M). Actually the idea of attaching thrusters directly to the diver or their equipment is not new with several attempts since the 1950s, but the intersection of modern technology and wearable electronics has suddenly made it possible. The main technological enablers are very compact, lightweight brushless motors for the thrusters, and compact and reliable Lithium Ion battery technology. Combined with some innovation concerning how to put them together on a diver, notably with the batteries in a flexible waistband, leads to a potentially game changing product.
Unlike other diver propulsion devices, Jetboots can be worn inside the SDV (Swimmer Deliver Vehicle), and can be worn while jumping from a helicopter or parachuting without the need to release them prior to entering the water. When in use they leave the combat diver completely hands-free which allows the use of NAV boards and other hand-held devices.
This makes weapons handling much easier and reduces the complexity of exiting the water during cross-beach insertions.
The device can be used in both salt and fresh water, where it is suitable for river crossing with strong currents. .
Wearing jetboots increases a diver’s range and allows them to arrive at their objective much fresher. The only real limitation is the modest speed. The limitation comes from the diver themselves, who are exposed to the full force of the oncoming water. Despite this the official specification states a top speed of 4kt. The system is therefore not a 1:1 replacement for SDVs and larger DPDs (Diver Propulsion Devices), but a complement and alternative to smaller hand-held DPVs (Diver Propulsion Vehicles) during the final stages of an insertion. And of course they have a general utility in diving missions.
SF divers emerge from the water. The Jetboots are barely noticible, which is not a bad thing. Image borrowed from www.apexglobal.eu
Patent illustration from 2002.
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Dry Weight: 20 lbs with 30V, 16.7 Ah battery
Thrust: 0-50 lbs, fully variable
Speed: 0-4 knots
Range: 2-10 nm, depending on configuration
The compact brushless eletric thrusters are low-noise and lightweight
The sinmple on/off style controls are attached to the waist together with the batteries
Italian Special Forces divers from the legendary COMSUBIN unit test Jetboots
Patriot3 already have completion from similar designs, including the British X2 Jet Pack from SCP Marine. The leg position of the thrusters and other key design features are patented so similar systems are always quite different, and arguably inherently inferior (not that the inventors would see it that way!). The difference with the X2 system for example is that the thrusters are worn on the forearms. No competitors have anything like the market awareness of the original Jetboots however.
Manfacturer's website: Patriot 3
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