We all have seen photos of a sea of big round parachutes, as US Army paratroopers descended on German troops in France during World War II, on North Korean troops during the Korean War, and into northern Iraq in the most recent Iraq War. The US Army’s parachute design hasn’t changed much over the years. Until now.
The US Army has undertaken a complete redesign of its T-10 parachute, which it has used since the 1950s. The new T-11 parachute has a new square design and a number of advantages over the T-10: a larger canopy, slower descent rate, and greater carrying capacity.
After 3,200 test jumps, the Army is moving ahead with T-11 procurement to get the parachutes into the field…
The US Army is paying up to $200 million to buy between 45,000 and 50,000 T-11 parachutes from 3 firms: Aerostar International in Sioux Falls, SD (W911QY-09-D-0036); Airborne Systems North America [PDF] in Santa Ana, CA (W911QY-10-D-0003); and BAE Systems in Phoenix, AZ (W911QY-10-D-0001).
The new parachute features several improvements [pdf] over the T-10: an upgraded harness that fits the smallest and largest soldiers and allows integration with modern equipment; a 28% larger more, stable canopy that enables a 49% slower rate of descent; a redesigned reserve parachute system; and a new canopy deployment system that reduces the shock of the parachute opening. The T-11 is designed to carry a paratrooper with a total jump weight of 400 pounds safely to the ground.
The shape of the T-11 chute helps to lessen injuries from inadvertent mid-air entanglements. The T-11 also employs a sleeve deployment system that creates more space between parachutes as they deploy and inflate, decreasing the likelihood of midair entanglement or collision.
In June 2009, about 40 soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment took part in testing the T-11 at Fort Benning, GA.
The 3 companies selected to supply the T-11 expect to complete their work by Oct 5/14. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with 7 bids received. The Army Research, Development, & Engineering Command’s Natick Contracting Division in Massachusetts manages the contract.
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