Thirty paratroopers assigned to the Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group jumped from a perfectly good C-130 aircraft and landed at the Army’s premier combat training center’s Geronimo Drop Zone June 9.
Ops Group is fielding the Army’s new official parachute — the T-11 advanced tactical parachute system — and received the parts to put the jump system together earlier this year.
The original time frame for orienting Soldiers to the T-11 system was slated for 2014, but the implementation training was moved forward earlier this year, said Command Sgt. Major Chip Mezzaline, Ops Group. The previous parachute system — the T-10 that has been around since 1950 — will be phased out by August 2013, he said.
“In April 2013, Fort Polk received the equipment and began working to in-process, assemble and jump the T-11 Advanced Tactical Parachute System,” said Warrant Officer David Beville, JRTC Airdrop Branch commander.
“Currently the riggers are halfway through the in-service of the T-11,” he said.
“Throughout the next few months we’re going to go through the training and learn how to size, fit and properly use the system,” Mezzaline said. “The jumpmasters have already completed the training and the remainder of Soldiers on jump status in Operations Group will jump the T-11 later this summer.
“The 1st Battlion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment will follow and then we’ll get the rest of the T-11s here and continue our normal training cycle,” he said.
Ten of the 30 jumpers were riggers. According to checks and balances protocol, parachute riggers have to jump a random parachute they packed, Mezzaline said.
“Today was my sixth time jumping the T-11 ATPS and I believe it went pretty well for everyone,” said Sgt. Charli Boyer, a parachute rigger with the JRTC Airdrop Branch. The packing process is more tedious than the T-10 Delta so there is more attention to detail when packing the T-11, she said. “But just as the rigger motto says — ‘I will be sure always.’”
According to Airborne Systems, the contractor who developed and produces the parachute system, the T-11 was specifically designed to carry a paratrooper with a total exit weight of 400 lbs. safely to the ground. With minimal opening shock, a slow rate of descent and zero oscillation, the jumper is provided increased safety, which allows for successful completion of Soldier combat missions.
“The modified cruciform shape of the T-11 ATPS compared to the T-10 Delta gives it better lift capability,” said Beville. “The T-11 ATPS allows for roughly a four-second rate of descent, which allows the jumper to have a softer landing and has lowered the number of (jump-related) injuries.”
Another benefit of the T-11 is the reduction on the jumper of the opening shock of the parachute, he said.
Mezzaline worked at the Airborne Academy when the system was fielded at the school.
“From the time I exited the plane, checked and gained control of my canopy and saw my fellow paratroopers ‘getting canopy’ until I went to prepare to land, I was pleased with the T-11’s performance,” Mezzaline said about the first T-11 jump at Fort Polk. “I had a nice soft landing. The T-11 does reduce the impact. It’s a good system.”