Aerial delivery parachute insertion feature Jane's IDR
Santa Ana CA - 1 February, 2010
U.S. forces continue to drive capability requirements when it comes to parachute insertion systems. Ric Allison, a senior vice-president for customer business at Airborne Systems, explains that there is a clear requirement for both 'round' and ram-air ('square') parachutes to deliver heavier all up weights at slower rates of descent.
Allison says a hat-trick of contracts awarded by the US Army and designed to replace 30- to 40-year-old T-10 parachutes with T-11 systems - will provide the "capability to deliver higher all-up weight at a markedly slower rate of descent - meeting the dual requirement of modern day airborne forces and reducing levels of injury".
In October 2009, the US Army began phasing-out Its existing inventory of 52,000 T-10 parachutes with the award of three contracts to Aerostar International, Airborne Systems North America and BAE Systems, in a USD34.8 million deal.
The trio will supply the first tranche of some 8,000 T-11 Personnel Parachute Systems. A total of USD220 million has been earmarked by the US Department of Defense to buy between 45,000 and 50,000 parachutes. The contracts follow an evaluation programme encompassing thousands of parachutes jumps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
According to Greg Kraak, Director of US Military Programs for Personnel Protection Systems (a business unit under the Security and Survivability line of BAE Systems), T-11 has a s lower rate of descent and greater weight-carrying capacity compared with the T-10 system. Capable of carrying 40 lb ( 18 kg) more, providing a total of 400 lbs, T-II has a rate of descent (ROD) of 19ft/s; a marked decrease when compared with the 24 ft/s descent rate of the T-10.
As Kraak explains, making low-level jumps safer for parachuting troops is important, but so is the need to exit an aircraft and hit the ground in the shortest amount of time possible, to maximise the element of surprise and safety from incoming antiaircraft and small arms fire. Designed for mass parachute assault drops from altitudes as low as 500 ft at speeds of 150 kt Indicated Airspeed, the T-11 has a maximum deployment altitude of 7,500 ft above sea level.
Its reserve parachute (designated T-11R) and harness, which will accompany the system's main parachute, has already been placed into service with the MC-6 steerable parachute system that received the green light for production in April 2006.
Unlike the T-10, the T-11 incorporates a slider that controls the opening speed of the canopy and reduces the chances of a canopy inversion (' twist') malfunction. With a drop rate of 18 ft/s, T-11's "slower rate of descent results in a 40 per cent reduction in impact energy" upon landing, according to Airborne Systems. The reserve parachute has a rate of descent of about 27 ft/s.
"Judging by the levels of interest we have received in this parachute - following demonstration events like 'Airborne Days' at our test and evaluation facility at Eloy, Arizona a number of nations are also looking at replacing their T-I0 inventories over time," Allison tells Jane's.