Elements of the French Special Operations Command are considering an additional procurement of parachute solutions following September’s DGA contract with Zodiac Aerospace for the SMTC (Systeme de Mise a Terre des Chutteurs Operationels) programme, defence sources have suggested.
The DGA agreed a deal with Zodiac Aerospace for the provision of tactical parachutes with a requirement to carry up to 510lbs in payload by military freefall and static line configurations. However, sources explained how further evaluation of additional solutions could be considered in the near-term.
The company’s Phantom Canopy was selected for the requirement which called upon a system capable of conducting high altitude/high opening and low opening (HAHO/HALO) descents. According to Zodiac, the Phantom has a maximum operating altitude of 29,500 ft.
However, speaking to Monch at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) at Camp Souge, France on 28th March, sources explained how the flexible procurement strategy of the French Special Operations Command might allow for certain undisclosed force elements to additionally procure an alternative parachute type.
Options include offerings from Complete Parachute Solutions, which continues to work up parachutes such as the MS-360 series for high altitude exit and high angle landings; through to Airborne Systems’ latest solution- the Hi-5 which has been designed to provide operators with increased flexibility for longer glide ratios or more rapid descent, dependent upon tactical parameters.
Speaking to Monch at the show about Long Offset Parachute Insertions, Airborne Systems France SAS Director-General, Bruno Delannoy explained how the Hi-5 could provide special operations teams with increased glide ratio for extended range; higher payload capacities; and rapid altitude loss.
Delannoy promoted the company’s latest product, the Hi-5, which provides assault and special reconnaissance teams with the ability to conduct high altitude high altitude (HAHO) parachute insertions allowing operators to travel an equivalent of more than 40km across the ground if exiting from altitudes as high as 25,000 ft above ground level.
Describing how such airborne operations were conducted in low light conditions, Delannoy explained how current trends for insertion continued to witness uplifts in the weight of equipment carried, including emerging popularity across the community for tandem jumps.
The Hi-5 comprises a silent canopy operation with no-stall capability, allowing operators a glide ratio of 5:1 and 1.5:1 for rapid descent if necessary. Delannoy admitted that some commanders across the international SOF community had described concerns regarding slower rates of descent associated with longer glide ratio parachute solutions.
“Usually operators have to fly “S-patterns” to lose altitude but with the risk of collision and compromise on the ground. So rather than having to do multiple turns in the loiter zone, all the team members can lose altitude quickly while flying in a straight line of flight,” he explained to Monch.
Such a solution also means a team of operators can land at the same time with different rates of descent (36 feet per second for 5:1 and 29 feet per second for 1:1 glide ratios) and combat loads (Cargo, Tandem, Equipment Free) providing varying rates of descent.
“You don’t want to be first on the ground and alone [in a combat environment],” Delannoy explained.
The French Special Operations Command was unable to comment on the additional procurement of parachutes.