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Draper Advances Capabilities of the Military’s Autonomous Airdrop System to Enable Operations in GPS Denied Environments

Wednesday, July 14th, 2021

CAMBRIDGE, MA—July 13, 2021—Draper recently delivered advanced guidance, navigation and control technology to the U.S. Army that enables the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) to operate in areas where signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS) network may be degraded or nonexistent. This new technology ensures that this critical autonomous resupply capability will be available to warfighters operating in contested environments. 

JPADS is an autonomous airborne resupply system that leverages advanced technology to accurately deliver supplies at precise locations anywhere in the world.

Since GPS signals are subject to degradation and jamming, both of which affect the reliability of GPS information to JPADS, Draper has equipped JPADS with new sensors and enhanced software to enable autonomous flight comparable to when JPADS has good access to GPS.

Draper has a long history with the JPADS program and was responsible for the initial development of the guidance technology in partnership with the U.S. Army. Draper continues to work with the U.S. government and its partners to bring new capability into the system to ensure its reliability. The addition of these new capabilities is expected to ensure the systems can perform in near-peer contested environments. 

“Evolving and expanding global challenges require the development and fielding of next-generation capabilities to ensure that the U.S. military is able to compete and win in complex operating environments,” explains Jonathan Cash, senior program manager in national security at Draper. “One significant challenge is being able to operate systems such as JPADS in GPS-denied environments. Draper developed this new technology for JPADS specifically for that reason.” Cash leads a team that builds on Draper’s six decades of experience in unmanned and robotic systems for air, land and sea.

JPADS is intended to provide increased tactical maneuverability and enable a sustainment capability to support multi-service and multi-national ground forces. Future research may include adding capabilities such as enabling JPADS to disperse smaller payloads, according to the Army.

The work is sponsored by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center (DEVCOM SC), Natick, MA, Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems (PM FSS), Natick, MA and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC), Picatinny, New Jersey.

Safariland Takes Holster Retention to the Extreme

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

Holster maker captures the security and safety of its retention technology like never before.

Jacksonville, Florida – Safariland®, a brand of The Safariland Group, a leading global provider of safety products designed for the public safety, military, professional and outdoor markets, today debuted a holster video like no other. For years Safariland has set the standard for how firearms are retained in a holster. This extreme video puts new light on proven technology.

“At The Safariland Group, we live for innovation, performance, excellence and legacy every day” said Tim Drnec, VP of Marketing and Commercial Sales for The Safariland Group. “Our team wanted to go out and show our products in an all-new way, and they certainly achieved that-and then some. These scenarios demonstrate the ultra-reliability of our holsters’ function, design, build and of course, retention.”

Secure Against High Force, Jolts and Torque

Strength, power and endurance are all honed in the gym. They’re also qualities of the world’s top holsters. So Safariland took its products to the gym floor to be tested by free will and brute force. When the time came to push the threshold of Level IV retention, they headed out to a maritime playground for a high-speed day on the water. And to remind everyone that retention is critical at all altitudes, the team went to new heights. They also showed these holsters release how and when they should and function in the most dynamic of environments.

Safariland has taken the utmost pride and gone to immeasurable lengths to ensure firearms are secure in all of its holsters. The company is continuously seeking new innovation to add to the premier product lineup. Every effort is being made to uphold and build upon the legacy of protecting law enforcement, military and security professionals as well as private citizens.

More information on the tests, the new video and the results are available at inside.safariland.com/shop-page/retention.

The Joint Fight: Arctic Paratroopers and HIMARS Build Combat Power During Northern Edge 21

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021

FORT GREELY, Alaska — Paratroopers with 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, conducted an airborne operation May 11, 2021, onto Allen Army Airfield, Fort Greely, Alaska, as part of Northern Edge 2021.

Following the seizure of the airfield, an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) battery from the 17th Field Artillery Brigade out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord arrived and conducted a live fire exercise at nearby Donnelly Training Area.

Approximately 300 paratroopers from the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, exited from U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft while A-10 Thunderbolt IIs orbited, providing close air support. Once on the ground, paratroopers moved to their assembly areas to consolidate and secure the airfield as additional C-130s and C-17s landed with more paratroopers, equipment and the HIMARS battery.

The HIMARS battery with 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, was air transported from Cold Bay, Alaska, and fired a full volley of rockets that demonstrated the ability of the joint force to quickly build and implement combat power.

Conducting a JFEO as part of a joint operation is nothing new to the Spartan paratroopers who train for operations like this all year long.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, and each paratrooper knows their role,” said Maj. Michael Conforti, the operations officer for 1-501st PIR. “You never know if an aircraft will have a mechanical issue, or someone will get injured, so the key to success is that each paratrooper also knows the jobs and duties of everyone else around them.”

Understanding the role of adjacent units and enhancing the ability to work together are key components of exercise NE21.

NE21 is a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command sponsored, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces led U.S. joint field training exercise scheduled for May 3-14, 2021, in locations in and around Alaska that uses realistic scenarios to improve joint combat readiness.

The Spartan Brigade is the only airborne infantry brigade combat team in the Indo-Pacific Command and provides the combatant commander with the unique capability to project an expeditionary force by air across Pacific and Arctic regions.

By MAJ Jason Welch

Adventure Tactical Pathfinder Kit

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The new Adventure Tactical Pathfinder Kit contains everything you need to set up a HLZ/DZ. It’s the smallest and lightest DZSO kit on the market.

To carry the system, they selected Raptor Tactical’s new MARVN Pack which is a modernized version of the Vietnam war-era ARVN pack. More details on this pack soon.

ADS Inc – Parachutes & Accessories Catalog

Monday, April 12th, 2021

In addition to the RA Intruder and SOLR lines of parachutes, Atlantic Diving Supply also offers storage solutions for your rigger’s loft.

You can download the catalog here or access it through the ADS app for iOS.

Soldiers and Marines Airdrop Medical Supplies, Food to Forward Personnel

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — Soldiers with the 1st Theater Sustainment Command’s operational command post, or 1st TSC-OCP, headquartered here, successfully executed joint airdrop missions with a Marine C-130J Hercules aircrew and Army riggers in the U.S. Central Command’s area of operations.

Pallets loaded with key medical supplies, food and other materiel were delivered in three drops to different locations, said Army Warrant Officer Michael Romeo, who works in the air section of the 1st TSC-OCP Support Operations, or the SPO shop.

The aircrew belongs to the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron-352, Detachment A, and are known as the “Raiders” Romeo said.

“These missions are definitely a high priority,” said Romeo, who is a warrant officer in the 165th Quartermaster Company, Georgia National Guard, but now serving with the Army Reserve’s 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 310th ESC acts as the staff for the 1st TSC-OCP.

Romeo, who was on the mission as an observer for the 1st TSC-OCP, said the airdrops are a regular part of 1st TSC-OCP’s support for personnel forward deployed, especially for perishable medical and food supplies.

“They will send in an airdrop request for review, and then it comes to me,” he said. “The biggest thing we do as logisticians and sustainers is making sure we are getting the right equipment and supplies to the people who need it,” he said. “Using aerial delivery is a quick and easy way to do that.”

The 101st Sustainment Brigade, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the 151st Quartermaster Detachment from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, also supported the air drop operations, he said.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. David Hoyt, the loadmaster for the flight, said he was impressed by the Army riggers.

“They are quick and focused and do a good job,” he said. “They understand we have time constraints and got the job done.”

Army Spc. Christian Ramos, 151st Quartermaster Detachment, said he is a team leader for airdrop system, equipment and repair.

The Guam native said once the pallets were loaded onto the aircraft, he and the other riggers use strings and rubber bands to attach the parachutes to the static lines on both the left and right sides of the plane.

“The static line is connected to the G-14 clevis, upon deployment, it will pull the parachute off,” Ramos said. “The strings I was attaching with the rubber or retainer band, are called anti-oscillation ties, so they prevent the static line from moving around in flight and getting tangled.”

The G-14 is a U-shaped piece of metal that slides on the static line, like a curtain ring on a curtain rod. When the pallet reaches the plane’s back door, the rubber band snaps from the weight of the pallet and the parachute deploys.

Ramos said this air drop mission was his first time as a joint airdrop inspector. “It means that I am inspecting the loads and ensuring that these loads are free of deficiencies, which reduces the likelihood of a malfunction, so the guys on the ground can get the supplies that they need.”

Spc. Hope Mastroberti, a parachute rigger, 151st Quartermaster Detachment, said during this deployment, she was able to attend the Joint Air Load Inspector course.

Mastroberti, a native of Crystal River, Florida, said she loves being a rigger, a job she has had for two years. “I love the opportunities I’m provided. I pack personal parachutes and I pack heavy rigging parachutes.”

By SSG Neil W. McCabe

Next Generation of Night Vision Technology Tested Before Equipping Warfighters

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – Operational Airborne Soldiers here wrapped up testing new night vision goggles and a laser range finder.

To determine the operational effectiveness and suitability of the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B) — the Army’s next generation of night vision system — and the Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted Micro-Laser Range Finder (STORM II), Soldiers conducted multiple jumps, despite a few setbacks with weather and COVID-19.

“This is the end of a long road for these two programs,” said Bill Slaven, test officer with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate.

“Both programs had suffered impacts to their acquisition time line due to the influences of COVID-19 in the preceding months.”

The ENVG-B equips Soldiers with situational awareness by providing not only cutting edge night vision technology, but also providing real-time combat information and navigation assistance.

Staff Sgt. Michael Wagner, an Infantry squad leader from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, hailing from Tampa Florida said, “The new capabilities of the ENVG will make night dismounted navigation much simpler.”

The STORM II is a rifle-mounted laser range finder with infrared aiming capabilities.

It is intended to provide Soldiers accurate range-to-target information when employing organic and indirect weapons systems.

STORM II also provides an infrared aiming reticule for the Soldier’s primary weapon during limited visibility.

Testing for the STORM II culminated with MFF testing by local Fort Bragg special operations Soldiers to address special operations community requirements when employing the STORM II during and subsequent to MFF infiltration.

During this phase of testing, the STORM II was jumped exposed during MFF operations, providing the critical test conditions of rapid altitude change, temperature and atmospheric pressure existing during free-fall jumps.

SPC Jacob O’Brien of Easton, Massachusetts, with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division was one of the STORM II primary operators during all phases of testing.

“I like it!,” he said of STORM II. “It’s a very durable system that attaches securely to my rifle and maintains its zero.”

STORM II testing was delayed due to the influences of tropical weather in November but completed in early December with the final free-fall test trials by Soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group.

However, unlike previous tests of this nature conducted during early 2020, unique challenges surfaced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic at Fort Bragg, which brought about a few new procedures.

“The new normal test day now begins with social distancing, temperature checks, medical screening and bubble assignments,” said Wayne Lovely, an ABNSOTD Test Officer.

“Consequently, paratroopers are a very hard demographic to socially distance,” said Maj. John Phillips, ABNSOTD Deputy of Chief of testing.

“Military aircraft are inherently designed to deliver the maximum amount of Soldiers possible in the least amount of space, and the proximity of a jumpmaster to the jumper is non-negotiable when inspecting the lifesaving parachute of a Soldier.”

“Our goal is to keep the Soldiers participating in testing socially distant and safe during every phase of our operations,” said Slaven.

He said upon arrival each morning, participating soldiers were given temperature checks by ABNSOTD staff and assigned to a specific work bubble for the day.

“This ensured that the operational soldiers had minimal exposure to support staff and employees not directly involved with their mission,” Slaven added.

“Operational Testing is about Soldiers. It is about making sure that the systems developed are effective in a Soldier’s hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight,” said Col. Brad Mock, Director of ABNSOTD.

Story by Mike Shelton, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

Photos by James Finney, Barry Fischer, and Chris O’Leary, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

PARACHUTE OPERATIONS: Pendleton Marines Jump Out Perfectly Good Airplane

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. —

Marines with Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, 1st Transportation Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, coordinated a parachute operation at Drop Zone Basilone to refresh their Marines on low-level static line jumps and aerial resupply.

1st TSB invited other Pendleton units to participate in the training event, enabling Marines with 1st Marine Division and I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group with airborne and jump missions to gain proficiency and remain current with their jump training.

The aerial delivery Marines coordinated with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing to use a KC-130J Hercules as part of the training. In addition to the actual parachutists, the Marines loaded the aircraft with container delivery systems and door bundles to simulate a resupply.

“It’s important that we do this training, because it allows us to practice in rugged terrain and puts us in real-world environments that we can fine tune our skill sets in.”
-Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Bridges, 1st TSB aerial delivery chief

After taking off from Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, the aircraft made several passes over the drop zone to line themselves up before doing the physical drop. Once the Marines jumped out of the aircraft, the supply bundles soon followed.

The air delivery Marines usually conduct two or three parachute operations each month to help maintain their proficiency. Being stationed on Pendleton, and having MCAS Camp Pendleton nearby, streamlines the planning process for each jump.

“Having the air station right here is crucial to us,” said 1st Lt. Amy Horney, the Air Delivery Platoon commander with LS Company, 1st TSB. “If we didn’t, if we had to go to Miramar or Yuma, or something like that, it would take a huge toll on the logistical planning that we have to do each time.”

All of the different training areas on Camp Pendleton also provide some advantages for the Marines, according to Horney.

“With Camp Pendleton being so large, there are multiple drop zones on the base,” explained Horney. “We can go all the way up north, we can stay down here by the air station. We can go toward different units to help them out and take less of a toll on their logistical planning. Camp Pendleton is definitely a golden site for us in order to do those two to three operations a month, in addition to all the other exercises we support.”

Story by Lance Cpl Andrew Cortez, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Photos by Lance Cpls Drake Nickels and Andrew Cortez