Sean Connery first used it in Thunderball. Now if the grand plans of the Andhra Pradesh Police materialise, commandos of the anti-terror outfit will take to the skies as Bond did. The state police plan to purchase Jetpacks (flying machines) that can be strapped on to a commando’s back and propel him into the air from where he can swoop down on terrorists like a bolt from the blue. The Maoist menace and the need for better counter-terrorism ops has prompted the government to create a corps of ‘ironmen.’ Tenders have already been floated for the acquisition of these mini-jet engines, a first for any state in India.
Police sources said that after several rounds of consultations, the state government has decided to acquire one Jetpack sample at the earliest. The tender was floated on November 16 and the deadline is December 5. Drawing lessons from the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, when NSG commandos wasted crucial hours in flying to Mumbai and then climbing atop the attacked buildings, the Andhra police wants its commandos on top in double-quick time. The Andhra Pradesh Police wants its commandos to have jetpacks, and has already issued a tender for one. “The equipment is a very costly—more than `50 lakh per unit—but is useful in counterterrorist operations. Within a matter of seconds, the commando would be able to land on a high-rise building during operations,’’ officials explained.
According to the tender notification, which lays down the specifications for a Jetpack, the equipment made of composite materials and engineered to be lightweight, strong and rigid, must be able to take the operator to 8,000 feet and have a range of 30 miles. A key requirement expected from the company dealing in Jetpacks is that it should meet the requirements of the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). “A certificate from DGCA, stating that it (Jetpack) can be used in India without a licence, should be obtained by the vendor,’’ it says. Going into the technical specifications, the state police said the equipment must have flight and engine displays, ballistic parachutes, and a retractable undercarriage with a fuel capacity of 5 gallons. “Each one has to weigh more than 63.5 kg and less than 108.9 kg,’’ sources said. Air attacks could soon take on a different meaning for terrorists.