Infantry: Marines And Army Get New Parachute Designs


July 23, 2008: This year, the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps are both getting new parachutes. The army is getting the ATPS (Advanced Tactical Parachute System), while the marines are introducing the Multimission Parachute System. The new marine parachute is intended for use by recon and commando type operations, where the need was for a parachute that could be guided to a specific spot for landing. This new parachute enables the user to maneuver five kilometers or more (depending on the altitude jumped from) to the preferred landing zone. The marines like to use this for inserting scout teams at night. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has long used similar chutes (rectangular in shape, rather than round, like the current marine MC-5 chute.)

The U.S. Army is replacing its half century old T-10 parachute with a new and improved model; the ATPS (Advanced Tactical Parachute System). The reason is that, in the last half century, paratroopers, and their equipment, have gotten heavier. The T-10 was designed to handle a maximum weight of 300 pounds (a paratrooper and his equipment.) In practice, the average weight is now closer to 400 pounds. This means that the troops are hitting the ground faster and harder, resulting in more injuries. Since World War II, the average injury rate for mass parachute drops has been 1.5 percent, but all that extra muscle and gear has pushed it to over  two percent.

The fault was traced to the venerable T-10 chute not being able to handle larger and heavier (it's all muscle, folks) paratroopers and the more numerous bits of equipment they jump with. The 51 pound ATPS (main chute and backup) can bring over 400 pounds of paratrooper and equipment to the ground at 16 feet per second. The 44 pound T-10 could bring 300 pounds down at 23 feet per second. When the T-10 was dealing with more weight, it came down faster, causing more injuries. The ATPS, when deployed has a diameter 14 percent greater than that of the T-10, with 28 percent more surface area. The ATPS harness is more reliable and comfortable. Operational testing of the ATPS has been underway for three years, and the new chute will have completely replaced the T-10 in six years.

The new marine chute also takes advantage of the new parachute technology, in the same way the ATPS does. Thus reducing hard drops, for marines landing with a heavy load of weapons and equipment. The new marine chute has been in testing for two years, but has been getting more tests, and some actual use, in Iraq.




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