The US military is to gain new parachutes through a multi-million dollar order placed with UK defence/aerospace firm BAE Systems.
The contract will see BAE Systems supply it with T-11 Personnel Parachute Systems for use by US Army paratroops on air-drop missions and operations. It follows an earlier order, placed in late 2009, and – combined – the deals have a value of around $13.7m.
As a result, new parachute systems will be supplied on a rolling basis from now until November this year.
T-11 Parachute System
The T-11 parachute system is the follow-up to the T-10 design, use of which within the US military dates back to the 1950s. Compared to the earlier system, the T-11 offers a range of design improvements and safety boosts.
The parachute canopy itself is a brand new design. It’s a different shape, to begin with – it’s square, not round. When expanded, it comes in at 28 per cent larger than the T-10’s canopy. On average, it provides a descent rate of 5.8 metres a second – slower than the T-10’s 7.3 metres per second. This acts as a safety feature, reducing injuries caused when soldiers hit the ground at too high a velocity.
Together, the canopy and the harness, through which it’s attached to the body, have a weight of 17 kilograms.
US Army Paratroopers
US Army paratroopers can, therefore, jump with weightier payloads, which could give them a battlefield edge.
“Our airborne troops using the T-11 Parachute are equipped with a system that provides superior safety and reliability while improving mission readiness”, BAE Systems’ Individual Protection Systems Director of Warfighter Equipment Programs, Greg Kraak, commented in a company press release issued at the start of March 2011.
“The improved harness system and slower rate of descent reduces the risk of injury, and the redesigned canopy provides the advantage of carrying more combat equipment.”
As the T-11 enters service, the T-10 parachute design is now being gradually phased out.
Paratroopers serve across all strands of the US military. Use of parachutes within a military context dates back to the start of WW2 and, from that point on, airborne forces became a significant component of major combat engagements.
Companies supplying Parachutes and Ancillary Equipment