Military Parachuting – History and Later Developments
From the first demonstration by a girl in 1914 to the final jump in the Pacific in the World War II, military parachuting proved to be of great value in military operations.
The year 1914 marked the first occasion that the military considered the use of airborne attack during battles and attacks. The use of parachuting was demonstrated by Charles Broadwick through his adopted 20 year old daughter Tiny. She gave perfect steering and landing but she was never seen after the jump. The design then was a basic backpack container which resembled a sleeveless coat.
While the military officers who witnessed the demonstration were enthusiastic about the project, the Army never approved of it, dismissing the benefits that could have otherwise turned the war in their favor. Later in the World War I, the pilots were made to fly without parachutes due to the belief of the generals that these men would abandon their planes in the slightest sign of provocation.
However, the Germans were already using parachutes for their military operations. While the design is rather basic, composed only of a canopy, several suspension lines and a container for the parachute, the parachutes gave the Germans good advantage over their enemies. The mechanism was a bit crude but it was a cause of envy among pilots.
After which, the Army was forced to adopt the use of parachutes in their operations which caused different results. In Normandy for example, of using parachutes yield great results in spite of the fact that the troops were highly disorganized thus the paratroopers went in different directions.
Several developments were made on the military parachutes. Nowadays, there are several designs that are being used for military operations. These are highly sophisticated designs that were made exclusively for military use. Also, there are some military divisions that are dedicated to the use of parachuting to deliver men and supplies to ground.
Special Operations Force, for example, performs high altitude jumping to accomplish missions. They include forces like Navy SEALS and Army Green Berets. On the other hand, Pararescue PJs make use of the HALO/HAHO as an important component of their paramedic operations.
HALO and HAHO jumps, High Altitude Low Opening and High Altitude High Opening jumps respectively are very unlike static-line jump which is the basic type of military parachuting and is done at a maximum altitude of 1000 feet. Static-line deploys paratroopers at the quickest way possible.
In the HALO or military skydiving, the jumpers freefall in groups. In sport sky divers this means no-contact RW. On the other hand, HAHO is similar to cross country skydiving where the jumper glides from an altitude of 25, 000 feet.
HAPPS or High Altitude Precision Parachute System (also popularly known as stealth parachutes because these cannot be seen easily on the ground) is the skydiving rig used in military operations. This rig is quite similar to the ones used by sports skydivers; the only main difference is that there are attachments in the HAPPS that allow for other items to be carried.
Also, there is a harness for the O2 gear. For both canopies, the usual size is 360 sq feet. Oftentimes, the soldiers have to carry 150 lbs of equipment when deployed in remote areas which require special features that will support this weight.
Military parachuting, with all its sophistications and advancements, is made for tactical operations alone and not for recreation.