Magazine article National Defense

Army Replaces Half-Century-Old Parachutes

Magazine article National Defense

Army Replaces Half-Century-Old Parachutes

Article excerpt

* For the first time in more than 50 years, the Army is upgrading soldiers' parachutes.

The service will replace each of its 52,000 T-10 parachute systems with T-11s over the next five years. The new model, which has been in the works since the 1990s, supports 400 pounds, compared to the T-10's 360. It also has a steadier canopy that in test jumps has reduced injury rates by 70 percent, according to the developer.

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Jumpers are a lot bigger today than they were in the 1950s, and the old parachutes are not capable of handling the additional weight, says Gary McHugh, a program expert with Airborne Systems, a New Jersey-based technology company that designed the T-11.

The Army began phasing in the new parachutes last March. Airborne won a $14 million contract to manufacturer slightly less than half of the parachutes that will be delivered in the next year, with Aerostar International and BAE Systems manufacturing the rest. …

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