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Category: Airborne operations (page 1 of 16)

Leapfest 2016 – International Airborne Competition

As its National Airborne Day, it seems fitting to post our wrap-up of this year’s Leapfest today – hard to believe it was already a week ago that the skies over southern Rhode Island were full of parachutes…

National Airborne Day on Aug. 16 honors the occassion of the first official parachute jump of the US Army, conducted on this date in 1940, by the volunteer Soldiers of the Parachute Test Platoon.  Other nations had already established Airborne Forces even before the US of course, including Italy, Germany, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and even France.  The Canadian Army established its first airborne unit in July 1942.

tumblr_mtvd5tILoU1s57vgxo4_r2_1280Red Army paratroops ‘jump’ from the wing of a Tupolev bomber in an exercise during the 1930’s.

Military parachuting has come a long way since those early experimental drops, and many lessons were also learned the hard way from the combat parachute drops during the Second World War.  Today’s Paratroops jump from turbo-prop and jet-powered aircraft as well as helicopters using either a static-line to automatically deploy their parachute, or by freefalling and then manually pulling a so-called ‘rip cord’ to deploy their ‘chute – and modern parachutes also come with non-steerable and steerable round canopies for normal operations, or highly-manueverable ‘ram-air’ square canopies for special operations.

t-11-parachute-001Current-day US Army Paratroopers jump from a C-130 using the new, cruciform-shape canopied T-11 non-steerable parachute.  The T-11 system has replaced the T-10 parachute that was in use for over 50 years.

Leapfest is the largest, longest standing, international static-line parachute competition. It is hosted each year by the 56th Troop Command of the Rhode Island Army National Guard to promote training and esprit de corps within the international airborne community.

DSCN2499The team from the Czech Republic walk off the Drop Zone after a jump.

Leapfest is both an individual and team event – each jumper must complete 2 jumps to be qualified for the individual award, and each team must complete 8 jumps in total to be qualified for the team award.  Each team consists of 5 participants: 4 jumpers and 1 alternate jumper.

DSCN2562The combined teams from the Italian Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri pose for a group photo.

Jumpers exit from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at an altitude of 1500 feet (457 meters) using an MC-6 static line deployed, steerable, parabolic parachute and aim to land as close as possible to a marked, designated ‘X-marks-the-spot’ on the Drop Zone.

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Leapfest 2016 is coming!

The Leapfest International Static Line Parachute Competition 2016 is now less than a week away!  Watch out of our event coverage to start this coming Saturday.

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Friday Foto

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French and Gabonese paratroopers execute an airborne operation during exercise ‘Central Accord 2016’ at Pointe Denis in Gabon, June 23, 2016.  The U.S. Army Africa’s exercise ‘Central Accord’ is an annual, combined, joint military exercise that brings together partner nations to practice and demonstrate proficiency in conducting peacekeeping operations.

U.S. Army photo by Spc. Audrequez Evans

The Science Behind the Soldier: Natick Labs

Located in Natick, Massachusetts, and officially known as the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), the installation is often referred to by its common nickname of ‘Natick Labs’.

Whatever you call it though, there’s no doubt that these folks do some very important work – even if you don’t hear of it very often.  One part of that important work is in developing new gear to meet the ever evolving challenges of modern-day combat and stabilization missions.  Long gone are the days of lowest-common-denominator and one-size-fits-all – the modern American soldier is equipped with some of the most specially-designed and high-performance gear on the battlefield.

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In the photo above, a squad from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) visit the equipment lab to discuss load carriage with NSRDEC’s individual equipment designer, Rich Landry.  Their visit was part of the Science & Technology Project Integration Pilot, a collaborative program that pairs Natick scientists and engineers with paratroopers from the 82nd’s 504th PIR.  Within an hour of the meeting, Landry had already begun developing the prototype for a performance enhancing rucksack based on their feedback.

Landry is also no stranger to carrying heavy loads in the field – he was once a Pathfinder in the 82nd Airborne Division himself.  In the video below, he talks about that experience and how it has helped him in his work at Natick.

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Friday Foto

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Paratroopers of the Polish 6th Parachute Brigade jump into the Hohenfels training area in Germany during Exercise ‘Swift Response 16’.

Swift Response 16 includes more than 5,000 Soldiers and Airmen from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United States and takes place in Poland and Germany, May 27-June 26, 2016.

Polish Army photo by Cpl. Mariusz Bieniek

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