Army’s New Parachute
Back in the days when men were men, Army paratroopers jumped with ‘chutes like the T-10 Charlie or the Dash One Bravo. Now, they’ve switched to wimpy little ‘chutes that provide soft landings.
Today’s soldiers are weighed down with a ton of gear, and the Army wanted a new parachute that could carry a paratrooper with a total jump weight of 400 lb. Last year, the service approved low-rate initial production for the new parachute, called the T-11 Advanced Tactical Parachute System; the 75th Ranger Regiment is supposed to be the first unit equipped this year.
Fred Coppola, the army’s deputy product manager for clothing and individual equipment, told me last year that the new chute would slow the rate of descent for a jumper weighing 385 lb to around 19 feet per second, versus the 22 feet per second of the old T-10. It’s the equivalent of jumping from a five-foot-high platform instead of an eight-foot jump — a difference that should save a lot of knees.
The new chute also has a lower oscillation rate (the jumper swings less from side to side on the way down), and the T-11 also has a lower “opening shock” rate: the canopy opens more slowly, so the jumper does not experience a heavy jerk when the thing finally opens.
In all seriousness, this is long overdue. Most retired paratroopers I know have the knees of men decades older. Beyond that, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes leads to injuries which means troopers unable to do the very thing they’re supposed to do after landing — become leg infantrymen and continue their mission.