Indian private defence start-up Absolute Composites Private Limited has developed India’s first indigenously produced personal air mobility vehicle and showcased its ‘jet suit’ at Aero India 2023, held in Yelahanka, Bangalore, from 13-17 February 2023.
The jet suit is designed to enable personnel to rapidly traverse difficult terrain. Scaling rocky and snowy mountain peaks, crossing rivers and damaged bridges, negotiating minefields, inter-ship transport, and patrolling and interception are some of the tasks the jet suit could address. Its light weight and compact design, simple and intuitive controls, and wearable features make it easily adaptable for various applications, according to the company.
Founder and Director of Absolute Composites Raghav Reddy stated at Aero India 2023, “An addiction to flying machines and desire to be up in the air was my motivation behind developing the jet suit. A simple, practical, and easy-to-maintain-and-operate flying machine is what the jet suit assures. I studied all such developments and found the Richard Browning concept to be practical. I did not want to build the same, so I improved the design by adding safety and reliability.”
Richard Browning is a British inventor who originally invented the jet suit concept on which the Absolute Composites suit is based.
The Absolute Composites jet suit weighs 140 kg (including a maximum pilot weight of 80 kg), can cover a maximum range of 8 km and can achieve a maximum speed of 80 km/h. It has three engines on the back and two engines on each arm. The seven engines deliver power equivalent to 1200 hp. Balance and control is effected by vector manipulation of the thrust line by moving the arm thrusters.
All engines are powered by diesel, which does not burn in case of fire, increasing survivability for the pilot in case of an accident. The suit has a 30-litre fuel tank, with the fuel distributed through a manifold.
There is currently an Indian Army request for proposals (RfP) for 48 jet suits, to which Absolute Composites has responded, although its suit is still in the testing and pilot training stage.
“We have responded to the RFP; trials are due next week,” said Reddy. “We will have an opportunity to supply if we qualify and meet their requirement. To our knowledge we are the first and only company in India building such equipment, but for the army RfP we have foreign competition: the Gravity Industries jet suit from the UK [Browning’s product] is the other participant.”
Absolute Composites has no partners on its jet suit project, but uses some components from foreign suppliers.
Reddy is confident that his product will be fully ready with new safety features by May-June 2023.
Absolute Composites Pvt Ltd is a Bangalore-based materials and engineering company specialising in the design and manufacture of unmanned aerial vehicles.