Yes, Navy SEALs Actually Have “Jet Boots”
Well they call it Naval “Special” Warfare for a reason.
Navy SEALs and weapons super-tech go hand in hand. Naval Special Warfare Command spends big bucks leveraging emerging technologies and testing for real operations. Occassionally, the tech is deployed to the now legendary Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), more popularly known as SEAL Team Six.
Much of the time these technologies live in a semi-classified state, wherein they obviously exist but are not disclosed or publicized as being operational kit for particular combat units. Thequad-tube panoramic night vision goggles used during the Osama Bin Laden raid is one of many examples of such a technology. Eventually, these capabilities can make their way down to mainline SEAL teams. That seems to be the case for Patriot3’s Jetboots.
The idea is very straightforward: attach thrusters to a frogman’s legs, allowing him to move quickly through the water with little effort, change direction in an instant just by moving his head and torso. For decades, the main obstacle to this sort of gear was the battery technology and material science really wasn’t there. That is, until Patriot3 attacked the problem.
The result of their hard work? The Jetboots Diver Propulsion System. The coolest thing about Jetboots is they allow the diver to go about their underwater business leaving their hands free to navigate, prep weapons, manipulate underwater objects, plant explosives and just be more prepared for the unexpected.
Jetboots have the ability to fulfil an intermediate gap between riding in a mini-sub/swimmer delivery vehicle and swimming to a target under a swimmer’s own power, all without the need for a cumbersome diver propulsion vehicle. Because the diver doesn’t have to swim for miles to the target area unaided they can save their energy for critical tasks performed once at their destination.
To extend the system’s underwater range, lithium-ion battery packs can be switched out while underway. We talked to Patriot3, which said its boots can push the diver to a speed of about four knots, which is impressive, although battery life is much better conserved when operating at “swimmer” speed, or around one knot. A recent test mission saw a pair of divers equipped with Jetboots traverse a dozen miles on just two battery packs each.
Although Patriot3 could not disclose which combat units use Jetboots, it says more than 600 systems have been deployed around the globe and that US Special Operations Command is a customer.
Clearly, the US Naval Special Warfare Command has these in inventory. You can see the government contracts for providing support and training their Jetboot inventory here and here, and US Army Special Operations Command seems to also be a user of the technology. There is even this awesome video of a badass disabled guy testing out a set of Navy SEAL-provided Jetboots.
The thing is that these things have many potential applications outside of the special operations community, including for ship repair, construction and salvage divers, for environmental research and for search and rescue operations to name a few.
And, let’s be honest, they look ridiculously fun.
The civilian market would likely have a demand for these although the price tag of $33,900 puts them outside of economical reach for the vast majority of sport divers. Patriot3 told The War Zone that they are working on developing a civilian model that will cost just a fraction of the price of the full-up militarized version, around a couple thousand dollars. Considering they allow the user to fly through the water like a fish while keeping their hands free to manipulate the world around them, that doesn’t seem like an unreasonable price tag at all.
Contact the author Tyler@thedrive.com