FORT HOOD, Texas - Paratroopers from Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment’s Long Range Surveillance, strapped on the new RA-1 Military Free-Fall Advanced Ram-Air Parachute System (MFF ARAPS) and jumped static line out of a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of their training.
It was a windy morning in the open fields of Fort Hood’s Rapido Drop Zone where paratroopers were testing and getting a feel for a new parachute system Nov. 19.
Paratroopers from Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment’s Long Range Surveillance, strapped on the new RA-1 Military Free-Fall Advanced Ram-Air Parachute System (MFF ARAPS) and jumped static line out of a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of their training.
The RA-1, which will soon replace the MC-4 parachute system, is designed specifically for jumpers carrying heavy loads into rough, unfamiliar drop zones day or night. It also gives greater glide performance and control while also making landing softer to minimize potential for injury.
Master Sgt. James Arnette, retired, a team member of ARAPS, said the new system is, “leaps and bounds above the MC-4.”
“The glide ratio is 4:1 and the old system is 2:1,” said Arnette. “So every four feet you’re dropping one foot in altitude, which gives longer insertion to the target.”
Additionally, it provides improved performance when preparing to land by forcing the canopy to move directly forward with no stalls, which makes it safer for the Soldiers during landing, said Arnette.
“Instead of landing and having to curl your body and brace for impact, we can now pull the toggles and land standing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nicolas Ford, an Air Detachment platoon sergeant with Troop C, 2-38th Cav.
It can carry upward of 450 pounds while the old rig could only manage 350 pounds, said Ford. Additionally, the new system is more maneuverable allowing troops to adjust to terrain and the drop zone.
“When you pulled on the toggles of the MC-4 it delayed the turn but with the RA-1, you’re turning right away,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ford. “It allows everyone to land within 25 to 30 meters instead of having all your guys spread out.”
The RA-1 system consists of a main parachute, reserve parachute, harness, and container, said Arnette. The main parachute can either be deployed by static line or hand deployed by a pilot chute based on mission deployment requirements and the reserve serves as a safety in case the main canopy has a malfunction.
“With the RA-1, they manipulated it to not only be a free fall parachute but also a static line parachute,” said Ford.
The harness is designed to fit a majority of Soldiers and houses both the main and reserve components while providing greater comfort by spreading the systems weight on a greater area of the body.
It is equipped to make safe jumps from 3,500ft above ground and upwards of 25,000ft mean sea level, said Arnette.
The RA-1 system is scheduled to be fielded to United States Special Operations Command in the third quarter of fiscal year 2014, said Arnette.