Airborne Systems Sets New Payload Record for Largest Guided Ram-Air Parachute
YUMA, AZ - 19 November, 2008
Airborne Systems, a world leader in parachute design and manufacturing, announced today they successfully completed a test drop deploying 40,000 lbs. of payload under a single ram-air parachute, surpassing the previous payload record of 33,000 lbs. set in September. The new precision guided cargo delivery system called the GigaFly, landed fully autonomously at a gentle 14 feet per second rate-of-descent approximately 100 meters from the intended point of impact.
GigaFly is part of a new generation of GPS guided parachutes that are changing military re-supply. The gliding characteristics of ram-air parachutes allow these new systems to land a significant distance, up to 22 kilometers away and at altitudes as high as 25,000 feet from their point of release. Using it’s specially designed on board GPS guidance unit and software, GigaFly can guide itself to a designated point on the ground. Traditional cargo delivery systems require aircrews to fly at 2,500 feet or lower to be accurate, which is within the range of small arms fire. This increased capability allows distances that keep the deploying aircraft and crew safe, while the accuracy reduces the vulnerability of the ground troops receiving the supplies.
GigaFly’s 10,400 square foot canopy is immense by ram-air parachute standards. Its wingspan of 195 feet is close to the width of the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (211-ft). The parafoil has the potential to provide the army with high altitude precision airdrop capability for bulk supply, equipment and vehicles within the existing capability range of LVADS (Low Velocity Aerial Delivery Systems). The demand for an accurate heavy payload aerial delivery system led the U.S. Army to develop this type of new technology. GigaFly’s test was conducted as part of a US Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center development program. The US Army has already selected Airborne Systems’ FireFly™ for their 2K (2,000 lb) platform and DragonFly™ for their standard 10K (10,000 lb) JPADS platform.
All Airborne Systems’ JPADS platforms use common hardware and software architecture to ensure maximum interoperability and minimum training and logistics burden in theater. “During the week we successfully flew the entire family of systems with payloads ranging from 200 lbs to 40,000 lbs” said JC Berland, Airborne Systems Chief Technology Officer. “The speed at which this technology is maturing is simply breathtaking”.