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Archive for the ‘Parachuting’ Category

U.S. Army Special Operations Command Troops Test RA-1 Ram Air Parachute Automatic Activation Device

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – Airborne equipment testers here are busy with Special Operations Soldiers testing the Army’s newest Enhanced Electronic Automatic Activation Device (EEAAD).

The Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD) is gathering data from the operational user to support an Army-wide fielding decision to replace the aging reserve automatic activation device currently fielded to military free-fall (MFF) units.

“The EEAAD provides the capability of the rigger shop to download the data instantly, which is not provided by the currently fielded automated activation device,” said a Parachute Rigger with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The ABNSOTD first completed risk reduction efforts for the EEAAD using only ABNSOTD test jumpers to ensure that the intended test item did not impose additional and unforeseen risks or hazards to the jumper before operational test jumps.

Operational testing started in the vertical wind tunnel.

“This allowed the test team to observe the approach load system under simulated free-fall conditions being employed by a MFF qualified test jumper,” said James Cochran (JC), a seasoned Military Test Plans Analyst with the ABNSOTD.

“The ABNSOTD employed a host of risk reduction measures to ensure the potential test item was safe and effective from the intended user’s standpoint,” he said.

Operational Soldiers from USASOC finished testing with the RA-1 main parachute and reserve with the EEAAD installed by conducting MFF test jumps into the Laurinburg, North Carolina drop zone.

“The EEAAD will not only provide MFF operators with a next-generation reserve parachute activation device but will also facilitate after action reviews,” said Lt. Col Derek Johnson, Chief of ABNSOTD’s test division.

“The EEAAD will also support jump incident investigations by providing the ability to download and analyze flight data at the unit level,” he added.

The operational testing consisted of new user training and military free fall jumps followed by data collection of jump data, downloaded from the EEAAD.

“The simplicity of the menus and setting provides more confidence to the jumper that the device will work as expected,” said one USASOC Operator.

By Mr. Richard Hedgecock, Military Test Plans Analyst, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

DEVCOM Tests Airdrop System for Rapid Deployment in the Field

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. — For U.S. Army Soldiers on the move, getting a vehicle in the field increases their survivability and mobility. Safely airdropping the vehicle and quickly de-rigging it is important to reduce Soldiers’ exposure to threats. As a measure to increase operational readiness, the Army recently tested the ATAX land airdrop system, an off-the shelf prototype.

The Foreign Technology Assessment Support program provided funding that enabled the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, Soldier Center to test the ATAX system, manufactured by United Kingdom-based IrvinGQ. The system was originally designed for British and NATO standards, which are similar to the U.S. but not identical.

The funding enabled the DEVCOM team to ensure it meets U.S. airdrop and air transportation specifications and to address any issues gathered during the testing. A follow-on Foreign Comparative Testing program, sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Comparative Technology Office, enabled detailed integration, prototype fabrication and additional airdrop flight testing.

The U.S. Army Yuma Test Center conducted four live airdrop tests between November 2020 and May 2021. The team used ballast weight for the first three airdrop tests and a High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle for the fourth and last airdrop test, which they drove off the ATAX platform at the conclusion of the test.

“Overall, the project was a success. At the final demonstration, we derigged the HMMWV and drove it off the platform without any issues,” said Sean Wellman, DEVCOM SC engineer and ATAX project lead.

The ATAX airdrop system is modular and consists of eight-foot platforms connected by hinges. It can be adapted to different lengths, typically between 8 and 32 feet, and it is surrounded by a self-contained structure where the parachutes are mounted and attached. The vehicle is loaded onto the ATAX platform with an under-mounted airbag system. In a typical low altitude airdrop, it takes between two to three minutes for the vehicle to drop from a height of 1,500-2,000 feet. Airdrop systems can weigh up to 42,000 pounds including the payload and airdrop equipment.

The ATAX airdrop system has significant advantages over traditional systems because it uses reusable airbags to soften the impact when the vehicle lands. Traditional airdrop systems use multiple layers of stacked paper honeycomb that is three inches thick to soften the landing. The paper honeycomb, which is crushed by the impact, is left in the field and can take up to an hour or more for Soldiers to free the vehicle from the paper honeycomb. One of the goals of the project is to reduce de-rigging time by 75 to 80 percent, which will reduce the amount of time that Soldiers are in the drop zone.

“Airbags minimize or avoid the need for paper honeycomb, saving time during preparation and recovery. The risk of becoming stuck in a stack of honeycomb is eliminated when airbags are used. Basically, when the vehicle is dropped, everything comes off, and the vehicle is ready to execute the mission,” Wellman said.

DEVCOM SC teamed with Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems on the FTAS and FCT project. PM FSS is executing the Rapid Rigging and Derigging Airdrop System Program of Record, which will enable wheeled vehicles to drive on and off the aerial delivery platform, decreasing the amount of time Soldiers are in the drop zone. Funding provided by the FCT program enabled the Army to maintain competition that would otherwise have not been possible. The FCT program provides funding to acquire, test and evaluate mature products from foreign industry that might fill a capability gap or satisfy an urgent need.

DEVCOM SC established a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with IrvinGQ in 2018, to share information about the ATAX system and other aerial delivery technology. DEVCOM is leveraging the CRADA for other projects that support its mission. According to IrvinGQ, numerous European forces are using the ATAX system.

“Ultimately, the ATAX system was not selected for further development but it was a key enabler for modernization efforts in aerial delivery. The ATAX is still available as a test bed for future science and technology projects, if needed,” said Andrew Meloni, lead of the DEVCOM SC Airdrop Research, Capabilities & Systems team.

By Argie Sarantinos, DEVCOM Public Affairs

Airman Survives Parachute Accident, Still Going Strong

Monday, March 21st, 2022

POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, North Carolina —  

Women’s History Month is in March and there is nobody reflective of being a role model for other women than U.S. Air Force Capt. Ricki Sidorov.

First impressions aren’t always accurate, but when meeting her, there is a bubbly, positive, go-getter attitude who can, and will, get things done. Hardly what you’d expect from someone who nearly lost her life in a skydiving accident in less than two years ago. In this case, though, what you see is what you get.

The San Bernardino, California, native is the Special Warfare Mission Support flight commander for the 818th Operations Support Squadron, primarily responsible for, well, pretty much everything: projects, building maintenance, combat arms, supply, and vehicle maintenance, just to name a few. She also leads 11 Airmen, one civilian, and four contractors.

Prior to joining the Air Force, Sidorov spent six years in the U.S. Army in expeditionary communications. After returning from a deployment in Afghanistan, she decided to leave the military and devote time to working towards a college degree. In typical fashion, she not only earned a bachelor’s degree, but kept going for a master’s.

It was then that she realized how much she missed serving her country and opted to join the Air Force. Sidorov’s job isn’t much different from her position in the Army, but the Air Force has allowed her to have more unique assignments, such as serving in the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Qatar and the Expeditionary Communications Squadron.

She finds her job humbling and rewarding. “I work with many talented individuals who passionately serve their country, and I continually learn from them,” Sidorov said. That attitude keeps her going, as she plans to remain in the Air Force, traveling the world while continuing to learn and grow.

Someone with these traits isn’t just born with them. She has drawn most from U.S. Air Force Col. Michelle Carns. “She is the epitome of a strong and caring leader. While in Qatar, our team in the Combat Plans Division was a family. It didn’t matter that everyone was from different career fields or branches of service. We were united in our mission and every month we had a team night to relax, eat and highlight the member of the month. Magical things happen when you bring people and food together.”

Sidorov is always the planner. The doer. Constantly trying to learn from others and lead with professionalism and class. That was all paused – and almost stopped completely – during her 2020 skydiving malfunction. As one of her favorite hobbies, she had made over 50 successful jumps without incident and had just finished her Class B license course a few months before.

On this day, she experienced a high-speed parachute malfunction, falling between 70-90 mph – spinning so fast that she blacked out. At 900 feet, the automatic activation device was triggered, releasing her reserve parachute. Within seconds, her main canopy partially collapsed her reserve parachute. If there was a positive, besides the fact she survived, she landed in someone’s back yard with ground that had been freshly tilled and was the softest it had ever been.

She sustained two collapsed lungs, a fractured scapula, knee ligament tears, and internal swelling that required surgery while spending 11 days in the hospital. Not surprisingly, she returned to work just a month after being released from the hospital.   

While most would swear off skydiving after that, Sidorov was back at it six months later. “We all face challenges in life,” she said. “You can’t prevent it, but you can have a positive mindset as you overcome those challenges. It doesn’t matter how hard you fall, as long as you get up and keep going.”

There isn’t a better example of that than Capt. Ricki Sidorov.

By Lori Dean

Airborne 22: US, Japan Test Interoperability

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022


The 374th Airlift Wing supported Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers assigned to the 1st Airborne Brigade in operation Airborne 22, Jan. 25–26.

Airborne 22 is the largest annual static-line personnel jump and cargo drop exercise between the U.S. Air Force and JGSDF.

The exercise integrated 11 C-130Js from the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, and two from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, carrying approximately 500 JGSDF soldiers for an airdrop training at the Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Japan, drop zone.

An additional 100 Container Delivery System bundles, carrying simulated cargo, were also dropped from U.S. Air Force C-130Js at six different points of impact at Fuji DZ. The simulated cargo, which consisted of fuel, water, food, and different types of ammunition, directly supported JGSDF operations on the ground.

This interoperability mission provides an excellent opportunity for the JGSDF to get all the airborne exercise they need, said Capt. Jordan Baab, 36th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot and Airborne 22 mission commander. It also offers the 36th AS the chance to practice its forward-deployed attack capabilities.

Airborne 22 demonstrates the U.S. Air Force and JGSDF’s capability to execute a large force insertion on a drop zone. It showcases the combined capacity between USAF and JGSDF’s ability to rapidly deploy joint forces while emphasizing the strong allied commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“This is a proof of concept that the tactics, techniques and procedures that we practice and train every day play into effect and work pretty well,” said Capt. Audrey Crismon, 39th Airlift Squadron C-130J pilot and Airborne 22 mission commander. “No matter where we are, who we are working with.”

By Senior Airman Brieana E. Bolfing, 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

SHOT Show 22 – CORE Survival

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

CORE Survival has quite a bit going on behind the scenes but one of the current in-line changes you’ll find helpful is that the Program Interface Module is now capable of programming Hel-Star 6 Gen III+ and Hel-Star F2 strobes with custom flash rates like morse code letters.

The PIM is programmed via a laptop and allows users to then, in turn, wirelessly program their strobes.


Combat Aviation Advisors Participate in Airdrop Competition

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

DUKE FIELD, Fla. —  

The luxury of readily available gear and resources is not always a reality for Combat Aviation Advisors working with partner nations in remote locations. These unique situations have led CAAs to find innovative ways to help partner nations accomplish their missions with resources and budgets that are realistic for them.

One way CAAs have been innovating is by using improvised parachute bundles for aerial delivery. While trained riggers normally build bundles with specific materials, improvised bundles can be made from locally sourced items on a smaller budget.

“We have built bundles using water bottles for crush materials where that was the only available material we could find,” said Master Sgt. Christian Becker, a 711th Special Operations Squadron CAA. “Basically, this whole process is using what you have to maximize the benefit for the mission.”

In order to hone these improvised parachute bundle building skills, the 711th SOS aircrew flight equipment team hosted a bundle building course during the December unit training assembly. Some active-duty CAAs and Army riggers also joined the training that included an extra element of competition for creating the best bundle.

“We have done training like this in the past, just more compartmentalized,” said Master Sgt. Juan Acevedo, the 711th SOS NCO in charge of training. “This was the first time we actually built and dropped the bundles that people made that same day.”

During the class, instructors demonstrated the bundle building process and then divided the students into teams to practice what they learned previously. Each team received a kit of limited supplies to build a bundle that included an egg and three soda cans. The competition aspect provided extra incentive to see who could best protect their bundle contents during the aerial drop.

 “I love that we are having a competition using skills outside of our normal careers,” said Maj. Daniel Saunders, a 711th SOS CAA participating in the training. “When we deploy as a small team, each of us has our expertise, but we want to learn from our teammates.”

After the CAAs finalized their improvised bundles, they loaded them on a C-145A Combat Coyote for aerial delivery and headed to the drop zone for the final portion of their training. While at the drop zone, they called in the air drops and watched how each bundle fared in protecting its fragile cargo.

“The training was excellent because it not only allowed us to introduce tactics, techniques and procedures to members of the squadron, it also gave us a chance to practice our advising,” said Becker. “Everyone loved it and mentioned how great it was. We are going to move forward doing more events like this.”

Only two of the eight eggs broke from impact and though some cans faced structural damage, none broke open. All eight bundles landed in their intended zone and the instructors said the training was a success.

“Now we all have a better idea on how to assist our riggers in airdrop operations,” said Saunders. “Exercises like this allow us to resolve team dynamics and help cement how we operate in a deployed environment.”

Story by Nicole King, 919th Special Operations Wing

Photo by Michelle Gigante

Paratroopers Jump into the Holidays

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

FORT BENNING, Ga. — Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, joined their counterparts from Canada and Australia in collecting toys for Fort Benning Santa’s Castle Dec. 7.

According to Lt. Col. Isaac Lee Henderson, Battalion Commander, 1-507th, from Chiefland, Fl., this was a great opportunity for the Fort Benning community to help families in need over the holidays.

“This is an awesome mission. I’m one of those kids that grew up with a single mom that worked two or three jobs to allow us to have a decent Christmas,” said Henderson.

Carrie Kennedy, a volunteer at Fort Benning Santa’s Castle, expressed gratitude for the toys collected for the kids in the military community.

“We appreciate all the generosity and support from Fort Benning and the local community,” said Kennedy.

The 304 participating parachutists each brought a toy before participating in the international jump, led by jumpmasters from Fort Benning, Canada and Australia. Participants were awarded their foreign jump wings after completing the mission.

“The mission of the toy drop that we did a couple of days ago was to give a kid an awesome Christmas,” said Henderson as they delivered the toys to Santa’s Castle Dec. 11. “I love doing this!”

Established in 1986, Santa’s Castle provides toys to children of Fort Benning soldiers who are experiencing financial hardship during the holiday season.

Story by Alexander Gago

U.S. Army photos by Patrick A. Albright, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs

Special Operations, 82nd Airborne Snipers Test New Modular Precision Rifle at Bragg

Saturday, September 25th, 2021

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina — Operational testing of the Army’s newest generation sniper system — the MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) — marks the project’s final hurdle before fielding.

“The modular nature of the PSR allows it to be tailored to meet mission requirements and is appealing to airborne Snipers who are typically armed with long-barreled precision rifles of a single caliber offering,” said Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Love, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, Test Noncommissioned Officer.

Because of the single-caliber offerings, snipers requiring additional capabilities must deploy with additional weapons. The PSR can be configured for multi-calibers by the Sniper in the field and requires no higher level maintenance to reconfigure. It will also extend engagement ranges for both anti-material and anti-personnel target engagements.

“The increased engagement range will keep Snipers safer and increase the options for the local commander employing these combat multipliers,” said Sgt. Austin Stevens, a Sniper assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

“With a folding stock and removable suppression system, the PSR will provide airborne Snipers a more compact load during airborne infiltration operations without reducing their lethality while providing a precision rifle platform more conducive to their combat environment,” said MK-22 Project NCO Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Copley.

Spc. Michael Liptak, a Sniper with Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment immediately identified the attributes of accuracy in regards to the MK-22. “I was surprised at the accuracy and the straightforward approach to testing the PSR,” he said.

Prior to testing, Snipers from across the airborne and special operations community took part in new equipment training which included familiarization with the system, maintenance, target engagement, system configuration and zeroing procedures.

For Spec. Nathanael Keffer, a Sniper with 2nd Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, the PSR’s versatility to adapt to multiple mission sets was a marked advantage. “The PSR is a very versatile weapon system that can be tailored to meet multiple mission requirements,” said Keffer.

Mr. Larry Harris, ABNSOTD Deputy Chief of Test said, “The critical task in testing any small arms platform intended for use by airborne forces is ensuring zero retention of the primary optic subsequent to airborne insertion. “This is a critical gauge of the Paratrooper’s lethality during airfield seizure and other follow-on operations.”

To evaluate this performance measure of the PSR, the ABNSOTD test team applied the organization’s mobile weapons boresight collimator to the rifle after jumping to make sure the Sniper’s pre-mission zero was not degraded by shock during the jump.

“This process establishes a baseline for sight reticle locations prior to and post airborne insertion,” said Miles Crawford, Test Technology Branch Chief, ABNSOTD. “Testers can monitor any shift in the weapon sight reticle that may have been induced by shock associated with static line parachutes,” Crawford said.

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

Photos by Mr. James Finney, Audio Visual Production Specialist, Base and Test Support Services contractor