Archive for the ‘Parachuting’ Category

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

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