The US Army is using the new super-strength, lightweight Spectra fibre produced by Honeywell to help military personnel descend quickly and safely from aircraft such as the V-22 Osprey.

The Spectra fibre is now a key component of Novabraid Fast Rope, a high-performance rope made by Canada’s Novatec Braids to maintain the 30,000lb tensile strength needed to maintain safe operations.

Novatec Braids managing director A Neal Prescott said that Spectra’s strength and vibration-dampening properties, as well its low stretch and cut resistance, made it the key element in the composite construction for Novabraid Fast Ropes.

Using the enhanced ropes military personnel can descend safely with fully loaded packs from as high as 90ft on a rope that measures only 1.75in in diameter.

The fibre has been used for many years to provide lightweight bullet resistance in personal armour including vests, breastplates and helmets, as well as in armour for vehicles and aircraft for soldiers around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fabricated from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene using a patented gel-spinning process, Spectra is highly resistant to chemicals, water and ultraviolet light, and has internal fibre-friction characteristics.