Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘Parachuting’ Category

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

Ft Bragg Airborne Troops Support R&D to Prevent Soldier Head Injuries

Monday, September 13th, 2021

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – Airborne Soldiers here recently tested combat helmet sensors looking to help the Army lessen repetitive traumatic injuries to the head and neck while jumping from aircraft.

The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division and the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate teamed up to do testing for the Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL) newest Head Impact Monitoring Sensors.

Ongoing research supported by the ARL over the last 10 years has developed improved monitoring devices and the implementation of many new protective gear developments.

“Ultimately our goal for the Rate Activated Tether (RAT) helmet suspension is to increase the blunt impact protection in all combat helmets for all Soldiers,” said Thomas Plaisted, the ARL Materials Engineer Research Lead.

He said whether Airborne or ground-based operations Soldiers, the goal is to achieve a comfortable and stable helmet fit with minimal added weight.

“The Impact Monitoring Mouthguard (IMM) is a ‘Check Engine’ sensor that provides understandable and objective head impact and blunt force data to line leaders regarding the readiness of their Service members,” said Dr. Adam Bartsch, Chief Science Officer for Prevent Biometrics.

For the past year, the IMM Team has been collaborating with the ARL to evaluate the RAT impact absorption system fitted into the Army Combat Helmet.

Testing of the IMM and RAT began mid-July with a day of ground training and familiarization, followed by combat-equipped jumps on Fort Bragg’s Holland Drop Zone.

“The findings from this test are vital in understanding the physical demands Soldiers encounter while conducting airborne operations,” said Capt. Tyler Miller, ABNSOTD Operations Officer.

“With this data, leaders and researchers can develop equipment and processes to better protect paratroopers.”

Ground training consisted of experts from ARL and Prevent Biometrics conducting training on proper wear and fitting of the RAT and IMM.

The test jumpers then tested the equipment on the ground with Sustained Airborne Training, Parachute Landing Falls on various surfaces, and then practicing jump commands and aircraft exits out of a mock door trainer.

That was followed by combat-equipped training jumps on Fort Bragg’s Holland Drop Zone from U.S. Air Force C-17 Aircraft, along with Paratroopers from 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, who were already jumping for training for mass tactical airfield seizure insertions.

“The ability to test and put these new and emerging technologies directly into the hands of our Soldiers goes far too rapidly evolve technology for the future of the Army,” said Miller.

Data collected from post jump surveys and the head impact sensors will lead to further development of protective equipment for Paratroopers.

Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division plan to assist medical researchers, by utilizing the IMM for further head impact data collection during training events over the coming months.

The data these Soldiers will gather will assist researchers in further development of protective equipment and techniques to prevent future mild traumatic brain injuries from combat and everyday training events.

By CPT Christopher Weber, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

US, Colombian Army Paratroopers Successfully Conclude DFE Bilateral Exercise

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

TOLEMAIDA AIR BASE, Colombia – U.S. and Colombian army paratroopers concluded a bilateral airborne training exercise July 30 with a demonstration of the tactical capabilities of the Colombian Army’s elite special forces unit, the Lanceros, at Tolemaida Air Base in Colombia.

The six-day U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and U.S. Army South bilateral Dynamic Force Employment exercise allowed for the rapid deployment of U.S. troops within the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility to respond to crises and support partner nations in the Western Hemisphere.

Over the course of the week, the two armies collectively trained on day and night airborne operations, a tactical field training exercise, medical evacuation procedures, a combat water survival course and engaged an obstacle course at the Lancero School.

The Lancero School was established by U.S. Army Ranger, and recent Medal of Honor recipient, then-Capt. Ralph Puckett, who earned gallantry for his combat during the Korean War.

Brig. Gen. William L. Thigpen, U.S. Army South commanding general, and Gen. Eduardo Enrique Zapateiro, Colombian army commander, observed the paratroopers take part of the combined airborne jump on the first day of the exercise.

“General Thigpen and I are in the field today, working hard to develop this training and be completely interoperable,” Zapatiero said. “We are going to put in practice all the distinct skills and capabilities that make a great soldier.”

The trip to Colombia marked Thigpen’s first to an Army South partner nation since his assumption of command on June 30, 2021, and provided him an opportunity to see firsthand the operational and tactical capabilities of the Colombian army.

“We want to thank both General Zapateiro and the Colombian Army for hosting us,” Thigpen said. “This Dynamic Force Employment is critical in demonstrating readiness with the U.S. and Colombian Army.”

As SOUTHCOM’s Joint Forces Land Component Command, Army South conducts security cooperation operations and activities with partner nation Armies in the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility in order to strengthen regional security and counter threats in support of a networked defense of the homeland. Through previous agreements at the conclusion of staff talks between the two armies, Army South staff planned, coordinated, synchronized and executed the DFE; with the 82nd Airborne Division serving as the operational unit of the exercise.

U.S. Army jumpmaster and platoon sergeant for Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Capen reflected on the efficiency of the Colombian paratroopers with whom he trained and jumped.

“One of my favorite things to see was how similar their military and our military operate,” Capen said. “Another thing was, from a technological standpoint, is they don’t utilize the newest and most advanced equipment, but they are still very proficient in how they operate tactically. It was neat to see.”

The positive impression of the Colombian military echoed throughout the ranks of U.S. paratroopers who took part in the exercise, as they were impacted by the various training events and cultural exchanges during the week.

At the closing ceremony, Lt. Col. David Webb, 2-501st Battalion commander, expressed his gratitude and respect for the military participants from the Colombian army who took part in the Dynamic Force Employment exercise.

“The Colombian military is the best partner force that I’ve worked with in 18 years,” Webb said. “I pray for peace, but I’m always ready for war. If I do have to fight a war, I would be proud to serve with each and every one of you.”

By Joshua Taeckens

Defender Pacific 21: Special Forces Soldiers, JGSDF Conduct Bilateral Operations in Guam

Sunday, August 15th, 2021

GUAM — Two C-130s launch from Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, into midnight darkness on course to deliver airborne personnel with U.S. Army Special Forces and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members to Guam.

History is being made as Green Berets with 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), and members of JGSDF, execute their first bilateral airborne operation outside of Japanese territory. On board, both units know well the commands and procedures that lead up to exiting a high-performance aircraft.

The operation begins with a call from the drop zone control party. The pilots check in and wind calls are made. The JGSDF exits on first pass with the Type 13 parachute. On second pass, special operations forces exit with the steerable MC-6 parachute. Directly below is a flight line—which guarantees a hard landing—and grass off to the sides.

On July 30, 2021, a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) assigned to 1st SFG (A) and approximately 80 members with JGSDF conducted bilateral operations in Guam as part of Defender Pacific 21.

DP21 is a U.S. Army Pacific exercise designed to operationalize the national Defense Strategy through realistic, iterative training across all domains—land, sea, air, cyber and space.

Following the airborne infiltration, U.S. Special Forces and the JGSDF conducted an air assault in vicinity of their first objective near Naval Base Guam, said the Special Forces ODA team leader assigned to 1st Bn., 1st SFG (A). After destroying the first objective, which were anti-air weapon systems, the bilateral force reconsolidated and moved toward their follow-on mission.

Thirty-six hours elapsed from when mission planning started to when the second objective — an enemy command and control node — was destroyed.

Despite tropical heat, humidity and lack of sleep, the bilateral force conducted a high-performance mass-tactical airborne operation and executed two targets with zero major injuries, said the team leader. The airborne operation sends a clear message that the United States and Japan share a commitment to freedom and security and can employ a combined force in support of these principles.

“This experience provided valuable insight into JGSDF capabilities and maneuver techniques; giving insight into how we can better support their operations in the future,” he continued. “Furthermore, this operation allowed the team to create valuable relationships with JGSDF [members] and leadership that will serve as the foundation for future bilateral operations.”

Throughout the operation, the ODA team leader made sure bilingual Green Berets and JGSDF members were placed strategically in the formation to ensure communication and commands were understood.

“Joint operational capability is important for us to defend [Japanese] territory,” said Capt. Ryosuke Taki, lead U.S.-Japan bilateral operations planner for JGSDF.

For six months, Taki coordinated with the JGSDF and 1st SFG (A) on making this training opportunity a reality.

“I had to overcome many obstacles to accomplish this mission,” he said. “As far as airborne operations go, [U.S. Army] uses many words we don’t know. Language sometimes [created] misunderstandings making coordination difficult…[however,] our members wanted to coordinate with 1st Special Forces Group.”

“Special Forces are experts in military freefall and close-quarters combat, as well as static-line jumps,” Taki said. “We have more lessons to learn from their rich experiences.”

The Indo-Pacific region is the most consequential theater on the planet and DP21 provides opportunities necessary to create, refine, and deploy new options and solutions for the challenges our nation, allies and partners face. This exercise anticipates requirements to support regional alliances and the existing security architecture to exploit opportunities.

By Anthony Bryant

82nd Airborne, 3rd SF Troops Test New Parachutist Life Preserver at Ft Bragg

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – Some of the nation’s elite Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Special Forces Group have finalized testing the Army’s new Parachutist Flotation Device (PFD).

Preparation for the PFD test started in mid-April 2021 with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate performing intentional water landings in Jordan Lake, North Carolina, according to Maj. Camden S. Jordan, ABNSOTD’s executive officer.

“Planners synchronized early with local emergency management, law enforcement and state wildlife agencies to help support the Army’s water operations on Jordan Lake,” said Jordan said.

Jordan went on to say rehearsals took place for the multi-tiered and complex infiltration technique before final testing in June.

“Located just West of Raleigh, North Carolina, Jordan Lake is one of North Carolina’s most pristine waterways, so these agencies provided swift water rescue teams, emergency medical technicians, small boat support and assisted in routing boaters away from the water drop zone while airborne operations are underway,” he said.

“We relied heavily upon the support of the community to execute this test. Local emergency services were the lynchpin to this entire test and could not have been executed without their outstanding support,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Reed, ABNSOTD’s Operations NCOIC.

According to Dan Shedd, Senior Mechanical Engineer Developmental Command at Natick, Massachusetts, military planners try real hard to keep airborne operations away from bodies of water.

He said on occasion, though, paratroopers can engage high value targets near large bodies of water so they must be equipped accordingly for safety.

With flotation bladders that can be inflated using an internal carbon dioxide (CO2) gas cylinder or an oral inflation tube, once employed in the water, the PFD becomes critical in saving lives.

Shedd explained how the PFD must suspend a combat-equipped jumper in a “lifesaving” posture for an extended period following an airborne infiltration.

“In real-world scenarios,” he said, “this critical time allows recovery teams time to locate and extract jumpers in the event of a water landing.”

Reed said operational testing with Soldiers during early June saw participating paratroopers undergoing intensive training cycles geared toward preparing for deliberate water operations.

That training began with new equipment training (NET) so the Soldiers could practice the proper rigging techniques and activation procedures required using the PFD.

“Anytime two lifesaving devices are being employed by one Soldier, intense attention to detail is required for both proper fit and wear as well as how these systems interact during airborne infiltration,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan R. Copley an ABNSOTD Military Freefall Master Jumpmaster.

The rigorous NET training test jumps required the test Soldiers of 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Special Forces Group to complete a full combat water survival test (CWST) conducted in Fort Bragg’s Mott Lake.

Sgt. 1st Class Steven Branch, a platoon Sergeant and Jumpmaster assigned to C Company 2nd Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, gave the PFD a thumbs-up.

“The PFD is much easier to rig for static line operations,” he said. “We barely noticed having it on, and it can easily suspend a Soldier with combat equipment for a long time if needed.

“Overall I was very impressed with every aspect of the PFD.”

ABNSOTD used the PFD test to train parachute riggers from across the airborne and special operations community in the proper maintenance and care of the new life-saving apparatus once they return to home station.

This “maintainer” training included system maintenance, repacking, repair, proper storage, handling, as well as rigging and employment during water landings.

Sgt. Issa Yi, a parachute rigger with the 151st Quarter Master Company said, “The PFD was easy to pack and required no special tools or materials to maintain.”

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

Photos by Mr. James L. Finney, Mr. Barry W. Fisher, and Mr. Chris O’Leary, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, and SFC Timothy D. Nephew, Airborne and Special Operations Video Flyer

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