Elite military forces have plenty of cool ways to reach targets. Black Hawk helicopters. V-22 Ospreys. Scuba gear.
Here’s one more: a jet-powered flying motorbike that can hit 150 mph and happens to be carrying four Spike missiles.
When Franky Zapata showed off his Flyboard earlier this year, zooming through the air 7,000 feet up at 55 mph, I knew a military version of the Green Goblin-inspired transportation would surely follow.
So I thought up the Zaxon, a tactical vehicle that uses that turbojet technology to deploy special forces on the ground to a target less than 100 clicks away, possibly after dropping from a Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy.
The size of a standard touring motorcycle, the single-seat Zaxon would use two larger engines up front, and two smaller ones in back. The jets could tilt slightly for liftoff, landing, or full-speed flying. The large fuel tank would sit inside the bike, taking the space usually occupied by a motorcycle engine.
Two jet nozzles would help with lateral stability, making small adjustments when necessary. An onboard flying system would help stabilize the vehicle automatically, although the pilot would need to be trained to properly feel the bike and learn how to react to its movements.
The Zaxon would have landing skids like those on a helicopter. After dropping from the plane and free-falling, it would power up, then come in a for a low-speed landing and skid just a bit when touching down. As a backup, the Zaxon would carry a parachute for flights over 1,000 feet, and infrared lights for landing in darkness. Small wings could create more lift in level flight.
Like so many military vehicles, the Zaxon would cost tens of millions of dollars to develop, so a government arm like Darpa would be best equipped to make it reality. But once it exists, if costs come down, the nonmilitary types might be able to enjoy a civilian version.