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Flightline: 38/TBD

Fit check for an Exint Pod on a Harrier GR.5
Fit check for an Exint Pod on a Harrier GR.5
Photo: UK MOD

Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Boscom Down, UK, Circa 1995

As a result of experiences in both the ‘91 Gulf War and the ‘92-’95 Bosnian conflict, AVPRO U.K. Ltd began work on an Extraction/Insertion (EXINT) pod
capable of carrying a single passenger, as well as some light equipment, beneath the wings of a Harrier (though other aircraft were also envisaged).

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EXINT pod concept art
EXINT pod concept art
Illustration: AVPRO U.K.
Harriers carrying evacuees in EXINT pods land on an Invincible-class carrier
Harriers carrying evacuees in EXINT pods land on an Invincible-class carrier
Graphic: AVPRO U.K.
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Cut-away art of EXINT pods showing passengers and cargo
Cut-away art of EXINT pods showing passengers and cargo
Illustration: AVPRO U.K.
AVPRO even anticipated EXINT pods being carried by the JSF...
AVPRO even anticipated EXINT pods being carried by the JSF...
Illustration: AVPRO U.K.
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...No matter which JSF version wound up being produced.
...No matter which JSF version wound up being produced.
Photo: AVPRO U.K.
Fucking NOPE! I’ll *walk* into battle first...
Fucking NOPE! I’ll *walk* into battle first...
Illustration: AVPRO U.K.
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The pods would be equipped with oxygen and an A/C system to allow higher altitude flight, as well as a communications link to the pilot. EXINT pods would also be fitted with a GPS beacon and parachute, so that if the pilot had to jettison a (hopefully empty) pod, it would land safely and be recovered.

The idea was not a new one, with RAF Spitfires having canvas “Man bags” which would strap to the gun barrels and were capable of carrying a person above the wing.

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RAF pilot demonstrating the “man bag”. I think I’d rather stay.....
RAF pilot demonstrating the “man bag”. I think I’d rather stay.....
Photo: UK MOD

A number of de Havilland Mosquitos, operated by BOAC, were modified to carry passengers in the bomb bay with a com hookup and oxygen mask. Physicist Neils Bohr was smuggled out of Sweden and over Nazi-occupied Norway in such a plane. On the other side of the pond, the US developed an aluminum and perspex pod to allow passengers to be carried by P-38 Lightning fighters.

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The Passenger pod was carried between the fuselage and engine nacelle.
The Passenger pod was carried between the fuselage and engine nacelle.
Photo: USAAC

It’s unknown how far beyond fit checks of a prototype pod AVPRO actually got. There are no records of passenger actually being carried, but issues were raised over noise and heat from the Harrier’s Pegasus engine, as well as problems with firing the aircraft’s weapons, and issues with g-loading on the passenger due to how far the pod hangs from the aircraft’s axis of rotation, so it’s likely airborne tests were carried out at some point.

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An AVPRO EXINT pod on an Apache’s weapons sponson
An AVPRO EXINT pod on an Apache’s weapons sponson
Photo: AVPRO U.K.

EXINT pods were also fit-checked on Apache helicopters, and it’s rumored that the Israeli Defense Force bought some or all of the production run for their AH-64D Saraphs

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Soldiers being medivac’ed in EXINT pods on an AH-64D Longbow Apache
Soldiers being medivac’ed in EXINT pods on an AH-64D Longbow Apache
Illustration: AVPRO U.K.

McDonnell Douglas supposedly produced their own passenger pods, known as G.R.I.E.R. (Ground Rescue Insertion Extraction Resupply) for US AV-8Bs, but info on these is limited/not yet declassified, and there’s NO pictures that I’ve found.

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Addenda: Kicking myself for forgetting about this, but for anyone who watched M*A*S*H, there’s also the Bell 47/H-13 Sioux, which could be fitted with two medevac panniers with acrylic windscreens.

You hear the theme song, don’t you?
You hear the theme song, don’t you?
Photo: EAA Staff Photographer (Fair Use)

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