Infantry: January 23, 2004

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After half a century, the U.S. Army is replacing it's 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 recently the rate has been over two percent, and the fault is apparently in 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 begins next year, with widespread distribution a year or two after that. 

 


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