By Mr. Rod Manke, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command Public Affairs
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Okinawa-based Special Operations Soldiers traveled here to support an airdrop certification test of the RA-1 Parachute System in the Double Bag Static Line configuration with the C-27J aircraft.
During the test, Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), participated in executing RA1 parachute jumps from over the ramp of the C-27J with and without combat equipment at altitudes of 6,000 to 18,000 feet Above Ground Level over Laurinburg, N.C.
“This was an extraordinary opportunity to conduct Double Bag Static Line training and to utilize our non-military free-fall detachment personnel to support the test,” said the Special Forces Detachment commander.
Airdrop testing is what the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD), U.S. Army Operational Test Command (USAOTC) does for all military acquisition programs.
Testing can be combined with training when testers coordinate with test units to incorporate mission needs that are nested with the unit’s training requirements.
“This test provided me with good training,” said a Senior Special Operations Medical Sergeant. “I definitely benefitted by improving my canopy skills. Although I am not military free-fall qualified, this test and training provided me the opportunity to jump a free-fall type parachute.”
Prior to the operational test, ABNSOTD’s Military Free Fall Detachment conducted over 100 risk reduction jumps from the CASA-212 and then the C27 to ensure procedures and exiting techniques were safe.
“Safety is paramount, and no one is more concerned about safety during operational testing than we are, while ensuring credible and adequate realism,” said Mr. Mike Tracy, ABNSOTD’s personnel test branch chief.
“The ability to employ the C-27J and all available aircraft assets enable the warfighter to meet their critical training and operational requirements,” said Mr. Al Lamb, Military Free-Fall Lead, Project Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment (PM-SCIE).
Lamb also said USAOTC working with the Product Manager highlights the important partnership that supports Conventional Forces and the SOF Commander’s ability to conduct long range insertion from the C-27J when using the RA-1 parachute system in Double Bag Static Line configuration.
Currently the United States Army Special Operations Command’s C-27J aircraft is only certified for conventional Static Line and Military Free-Fall parachute operations.
The test evaluated jumpers exiting over the ramp of the C-27J with the RA-1 parachute system packed in a double bag static line configuration.
After certification, the capability will permit increased utilization of the C-27J in supporting this advanced tactical, airborne insertion capability.
One Senior Operations Sergeant said, “Double Bag Static Line becomes an additional infiltration mechanism for our detachment to be used in the future.
“At the end of the day, jumping from a high performance aircraft further validates our ability to jump the RA1 Parachute in the double bag static line configuration,” he added. “It gives us and the commander comfort in knowing an entire Operational Detachment Alpha can use this aircraft platform with excellent results.”
“Any time Soldiers and their leaders get involved in operational testing, they have the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future Soldiers will use in combat,” said Capt. Brian McNally, Assistant Product Manager, Personnel Airdrop, PM-SCIE.
“Successful completion of this test provides a vital operational capability to the Conventional Airborne and Special Operations Forces in addition to substantial cost avoidance for the Army, enabling the use of organic assets to meet training and operational requirements and limiting the use of costly commercial airlift,” explained Lamb.
“Operational testing is USAOTC’s opportunity to facilitate the Army’s efforts to provide improved capabilities to Soldiers faster; anything less compromises the Army’s ability to provide the forces that fight and win the Nation’s wars,” said Lt. Col. Greg Oquendo, chief of ABNSOTD’s test division.
About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:
The Fort Bragg, N.C.-based Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate plans, executes, and reports on operational tests and field experiments of Airborne and Special Operations Forces equipment, procedures, aerial delivery and air transportation systems in order to provide key operational data for the continued development and fielding of doctrine, systems or equipment to the Warfighter.
The U.S. Army Operational Test Command is based at West Fort Hood (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas and its mission is about making sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier’s hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers offer their feedback, which influences the future by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems that Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight with.