London Sunday Times May 28, 2006 Batman's Wings For Gliding Troops By Peter Almond MILITARY scientists have designed a Batman-style set of wings to enable paratroopers to glide up to 120 miles into enemy territory. The device enables the caped soldiers to be dropped outside hostile airspace from altitudes of up to 30,000ft and infiltrate enemy lines without being detected by radar. The wings, unveiled last week, are being tested by their manufacturer and are intended to be ready for use next year by German special forces parachutists. Parachutists can penetrate into areas that are difficult to reach without their transport planes having to fly into a danger zone, said a spokesman for ESG, manufacturer of the new mono-wing. At the same time, tracing this almost 100% silent system using air or ground-based radar systems is extremely difficult. In practice, a reserve parachute is carried for safety. The guidance, oxygen and stablisation systems for the wing are being finished and studies have begun on a powered version which will use small turbo-jets. The system is reportedly 100% silent and extremely difficult to track by air or ground-based radar systems, said Peter Felstead, editor of Janes Defence Weekly. The new wing will also reduce the impact of wind conditions on the jumper and allow operatives to travel up to 40 kilometres carrying equipment loads of around 100 kilograms. According to ESG, the wing is a development of a ram-air parachute system in use with the German armed forces since 2003. Ram-air parachutes, also used by the SAS and US special forces, have two layers of fabric which fill with air and become highly controllable airfoil shapes. While ESG says German special forces as well as the countrys GSG9 counter- terrorist unit have expressed interest, British special forces experts remain sceptical. High altitude, high opening (Haho) jumps may keep the plane out of harms way but they are very difficult for the jumper, said one recently retired senior SAS officer. His parachute opens almost immediately and he has to control it for a very long time. He is buffeted by winds, hes very cold, hes breathing oxygen and he has to navigate and communicate with the rest of his team. I cant think of an operational Haho weve done, and I dont even think weve done an operational Halo (high altitude, low opening) since Oman in 1970. On that occasion an SAS trooper, Lance-Corporal Paul Reddy, died when his parachute failed to open properly after free-falling from 11,000ft. The most recent high altitude jump on operations was carried out by Nato special forces in Bosnia in 2001 reportedly in an attempt to capture a high-ranking alleged Serbian war criminal. The Ministry of Defence declined to comment on special forces equipment but said: We continually look to improve the capability of our armed forces and in doing so we keep a close eye on technological developments all over the world.