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The Exint pod was a design for a man-carrying, under-wing pod capable of being fitted to the underwing weapons pylons on military fast-jets and military helicopters. The concept was conceived by the former Acton, London based aircraft consultancy AVPRO U.K. Ltd as a method of inserting and extracting special forces operatives. According to Flight International magazine, in the late 1990s the UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency test fitted a prototype pod to a Bae Sea Harrier at its Boscombe Down research facility. It is not clear if the pod subsequently went into production and/or service, although some web sources cite it as being certified for use on Israeli AH-64 Apaches. The Harrier has now been retired from RAF and Royal Navy Service. McDonnell Douglas also produced models of a GRIER (Ground Rescue Insertion Extraction Resupply) pod for the AV-8B. Problems have been cited with using weapons pylon mounted pods to ferry personnel on fast jets in particular. Excessive engine noise (in the case of the Harrier, due to proximity to the rotating jet nozzles of the Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine), high g-forces during roll due to the distance of the pod from the aircraft's axis of roll, as well as the discomfort of travelling at fast-jet speeds have all been listed as limitations.
The concept of ferrying passengers in or on modified fixed and rotary wing combat aircraft has many historical precedents. During World War 2`body-bags'; (fabric bags mounted on the upper inboard surfaces of Spitfire wings) were used to carry people. The Luftwaffe also experimented with people-carrying wing-mounted enclosures on the Stuka dive bomber and ME 109 fighter. Modified versions of the P-38 Lightning were capable of carrying people in underwing, perspex fronted pods. Versions of the De Havilland Mosquito operated by BOAC were used to ferry passengers in modified capsules in the space that would have been the bomb bay; the most notable being Danish nuclear physicist Niels Bohr.
More recently, in 2009 four UK Royal Marines rode on the weapon-carrying stub wings of two Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters to rescue a fellow wounded soldier during an operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan. What appear to be US Marines have also been photographed strapped to weapons bay doors on Marine Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, also in Afghanistan. This extraction and insertion technique is understood to be one of several practised by Marine Cobra pilots.
- "uk test fits avpro exint pod on harrier". Flight Global website. Flight International Magazine. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
- Unknown, Unknown. "Exint cleared for AH-64 as production starts". Flight Global website. Flight International. Retrieved 30 August 2011.
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