Infantry: A Parachute Fit For Big Guys


October 22, 2009: U.S. Army has ordered 45,000 radically new parachutes. The T-11 ATPS (Advanced Tactical Parachute System) is replacing its half century old T-10 parachute. The new and improved model is urgently needed because, in the last half century, paratroopers, and their equipment, have gotten heavier. The current 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 meant that the troops were hitting the ground faster and harder using the T-10, 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 basic problem was that the venerable T-10 was not 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 T-11 (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 T-11, when deployed has a diameter 14 percent greater than that of the T-10, with 28 percent more surface area. The T-11 harness is more reliable and comfortable. Operational testing of the T-11 has been underway for four years, and the new chute will have completely replaced the T-10 in five years.