Recently I saw a program on flying machines that included some footage of the 1960s experimental jet packs. In fact the form usually seen is in fact a " Rocket belt". While quite maneuverable and fairly fast, these packs only had a flight time of around 20secs. The stated idea was that these could be used to fly infantry over rivers or minefields. Hauling along the weight of the device for such an occasion wasn't really practical, and didn't do anything to move the tanks and other vehicles past an obstacle. Modern versions of the rocket belt have increased the flight time to 30 secs. Possibly the packs could be used by engineers to carry cables or line charges across the obstacle, but that was about it. What did occur to me was that such devices could be used as a sort of low level parachute. This is best illustrated by an example:-
A small force of anti-socials has crossed the border so a helicopter mounted quick reaction unit is dispatched to intercept. When they sight the helicopter the insurgents open fire with the inevitable AKs and RPGs. The helicopter does not land or slow to a hover to FAST rope the QR unit in. Instead the pilot makes a high speed pass over the terrorists and a dozen rocket pack equipped figures burst forth from the side doors. Each man is moving in excess of 60mph and using his packs maneuverability to rapidly kink and zag to avoid ground fire. Within seconds each man has swooped down to an area of cover, jettisoned his flight pack and opened fire with a machine gun or repeating grenade launcher. The terrorist find themselves suddenly surrounded and pinned down, a fine target for the rockets and mini-guns of the orbiting helicopter.
Such a mission would be best met by a relatively cheap "semi-disposable" flight pack. This might use pressurized Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) canisters instead of a separate nitrogen bottle and a cheaper catalyst than silver. My friend Ed has suggested that discarded packs could be relaunched unmanned to act as decoys and draw fire. In MOUT operations such rocket packs could be used to insert assault teams onto the upper floors or roofs of buildings, allowing them to house clear downwards, forcing the enemy into the killing ground of the street. It will no doubt occur to troopers that once they have landed and have no use for the rocket pack it will make quite an effective bomb. During an assault on entrenchments rocket packs can be used for a localized form of vertical envelopment, allowing simultaneous attacks to both the front and rear of a position.
Helipacks such as the XFV may also have military applications. If dropping into a "Hot LZ" the first wave of paratroopers may jump from their transport plane mounted on such vehicles. Mounted on the frame of the XFV would be repeating grenade launchers and a high rate of fire .22 SMG mounted between the control grips. Such troopers would strafe the landing area and rapidly secure or destroy various objectives.
I have a further application for the H2O2 powered rocket belt, and this is to equip helicopter winchmen with such a device. The winchman would still hang from the helicopter by his line but would also have a rocket pack. This might also have a fuel line attached to the mothership to increase the operating time of the rocket pack. Alternately the system might use compressed air. Such a system has several applications. One is that the winchman can use the thrust of the rockets to counter act strong winds. A second is that it allows the winchman to fly right up to a building or cliff face while the helicopter maintains a safe distance. This has obvious applications for mountain rescue and other applications.