Army to Field New Type of Parachute


The U.S. Army and other services will soon begin fielding the first new type of parachute in decades, the service said.

The product is known as the Military Free Fall Advanced Ram-Air Parachute System, or RA-1. In coming months, it will start to replace the two-decades-old MC-4 design as the service’s primary tactical parachute.

The new rig is made by Airborne Systems, part of Solon, Ohio-based HDT Global, and commercially marketed as the Intruder. Consisting of a main parachute, reserve parachute, harness and container, it’s designed to give troops more maneuverability.

“This parachute allows you to land everybody within a 25 to 30 meter circle, instead of having all your guys spread out wherever the wind carried them along the drop zone,” Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Ford said in a recent Army video.

Ford is the air detachment platoon sergeant at Fort Hood, Texas, for Company C, 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, III Corps.

His soldiers recently tested the parachute in static-line jumps from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Previous evaluations involved paratroopers jumping from such aircraft as the C-127 and C-23.

The parachute is also designed to give troops more carrying capacity. The RA-1 can carry upwards of 450 pounds — 100 pounds more than its predecessor — and safely deploy from 3,500 feet to 25,000 feet, according to a recent article on the website of the base’s newspaper, the Fort Hood Sentinel.

The Army has previously said it plans to begin fielding the product in April 2014. It wasn’t immediately clear how much the new system costs and how many units the service plans to buy.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Lance

    This is for there SOCOM units and for special jumps/ They just bought the T-11 chute and I don’t see that going away soon either.

    • Joey

      Sorry bro. But the T-11 has it’s flaws. Plus this chute is not used for the 82nd. It’s more your MFF guys. And the T-11 has been stopped due to SM’s burning in. Plus it takes for every to pack a a T-11. Crash 10s and dash 1s are still in use heavily with my unit. And we have the 11s and mc6

      • Old Jumper

        1/38 Cav, part of XVIII Airborne Corps, is getting the RA-1. They are not part of USASOC. The T-11 has NOT been stopped. The 11th Quartermaster has over 14,000 of them. There was one fatality at Ft Bragg, June 2011. The Riggers left something in the canopy during repack that ripped the canopy wide open. The Jumper never even attempted to pull his reserve. Part of the reason for T-11 taking longer to pack is Riggers aren’t packing a lot of them. Ranger Regiment and 507th PIR have no problem packing the T-11.

        • KryptoKnight

          Holly cow where is your opsec?

          • seans

            For what. Nothing that has been said compromises anything.

  • SgtAirborne

    Time too have the airborne update.

    • Joey

      Hate to break it to ya SGTAIRBORNE. they decided to cut our happy jumpy butts.

    • RudyH

      T-squares are just fine….they can be steered……as opposed to the those old dinosaur chutes…

  • Glenn Haldane

    3500 feet sounds very high for minimum height – not really what I would call tactical. Should that read 350 feet?

    • Old Jumper

      This is a square chute not round. You can’t even make a major turn below 1000 ft AGL. Squares require a cut away of main if there is a malfunction. It is designed for long range petetration. With 4:1 glide ratio You can easily glide 20 miles in calm air to the drop zone.

    • Old Jumper

      This is a high performance square not a low level mass tac chute. With a 4:1 glide ratio you can easily fly 20 miles to the DZ. If there is a maifunction, like all square chutes you can’t do a cutaway below 1000 feet.

      • seans

        Are you saying you can’t make a turn under a 1000ft with a square canopy. How much free fall experience do you have. I have made 180s under 200ft with the MC-4. This is a Ram Air Canopy chute, they are highly maneuverable. And you can cut away at a 1000 ft, not fun from the guys I have talked to who have done it, but it is possible. And you are most likely going to have a really bad day. And the minimum height possible to safely pull our cords with the ability to still deploy or reserve in case of emergency is 1500ft AGL for the MC-4.

  • Reklawyeslew

    What about the mc6? T11? Forget decades, those are in the last couple of years…

    • Old Jumper

      T-11 replaced the T-10 for MASS Tactical jumps. The MC-6 replaces the MC-1. MC-6 is much more maneuverale. The RA-1 replaces the MC-4 but can be jumped free fall or static line if you are not MFF qualified.

    • F H Staley


  • B Bert

    3500 feet is only about 14 seconds of straight drop before hitting the ground.


    Don’t tell anyone but we were jumping the Ram Air on static line back in the 70’s…

    Capt J .E. did a Ram Air on static line from a Lear Jet in Rambo II..

  • Steve Wright

    Tue. 12/10/13 All this chatter about a New Parachute. DOD is about to Cut Airborne Units period ! The Days of Mass Parachute Drops & thousands of ParaTroopers in the Sky at the same time is about to become History.
    “They can’t Do THAT ! We are Too Important !” Think again. SPW in Alaska AIRBORNE All the Way Sir !

    • seans

      You realize this is about replacing MC-4, which was the parachute for special operations forces. This wasn’t for mass airborne jumps.

  • Papasan173

    I’m a ‘trooper from 1966-1970, 1/503d Inf., 173rd Abn. What is the difference between the new T-11, and the T-10 I jumped for 18 months in Germany?

    • Art

      The T-11 is more of a square shape and comes down a lot slower than a T-10. You can do a search on the computer and pull up a photo of it.

  • Mike

    Back in my day, we safely jumped the T-10 at 800 feet during practice jumps, but were told that in combat, we could expect to go at 350 feet. The T-10 was not real maneuverable, the advantage being that everyone drifted in the same general direction to avoid mid-air entanglements or landing on top of another canopy, causing your canopy to collapse. Can’t imagine highly maneuverable chutes being used in mass jumps for this reason. I did note that the RA-1 is a free fall chute, obviously for SOC insertions.

    • tom

      yeah, I jumped with the T-10 and -1 s, the one had toggles to steer with and canopy section out from back , too many mid level collisions ans leap frogging going on, so they went to just the t-10 s, I only came onc time close right after chute fully deployed, I grabbed the one side of the risers and yanked down dor bout 45 seconds to let him move on after that it went well

  • martin

    looks great

  • chuck

    Retired Guy here. We had talked about using the Ram Air with Special Ops back in the early 1980s! It was a good idea then and long overdue. Flying a Multi Billion Dollar Aircraft in formation with hundreds of others at 400 feet at night, just is not too damn safe. The time has come to use high altitude drops and glide the 10 or 20 miles using GPS and infrared markers. What in the hell took them so long.

    • JPD

      What are you talking about? HALO has been around for decades, and those parachutes have been in use since the 1980s.

    • haloguy628

      MT-1XX was in service with SOCOM and SWC in 1982 and HALO/HAHO infil tactics using ram-air were being developed by free fall section of the ABN Test Board at Ft.Bragg in 1981 using the UNIT IV canopy.

  • Buddy

    3500 feet..14 seconds..hmmm..there are a lot of variables related to that..size

  • Sgt Mike

    I’ve never done A “loPo” I suppose if they don’t issue a reserve for that jump,i guess your gona do a LoPo

  • JPD

    There is an awful lot of nonsense in this comments section. I can’t tell if half the people who are posting are drunk, making stuff up, or learned English from a monkey.

  • oldcatman

    I’m an old tin can sailor, so what do I know. I jumped at Elsinore, California in the early 1970’s when the Paraplane first hit the dirt. It was the fastest [35mph] most maneuverable canopy ever! It could fly in winds up to 35mph. Opening shock would clean out your sinuses. Opening shock was terrible. But improvements over the years improvrd safety a great deal. I was suprised the military didn’t adopt it a lot sooner. Which was is up!

    Thank’s for your service to your country.

    Wishing You and Yours Peace Profound,


  • Dlee

    It’s about time. Having jumped T-10’s and later MC-1’s, anything is an improvement. Most of the time we jumped at 1200 feet and the only problem was that it wasn’t much of a ride. Later at Bragg, some chopper pilots would take us up to about 3000 feet and that was great. Having been a rigger, wonder how difficult it is to pack?
    Airborne All the Way!

    • Robert

      Remember: Good to the last drop.
      Paratrooper from the 187th, 18th Abn Corp era in the early 1950’s

    • Tom

      I hear that , I was with the 325 , then to the 502 nd, would like to try these chutes out

  • mikeshms

    We jumped at 1200 feet so the team could get on the ground asap. The Golden Knights have been using glide parachutes halo in the 60tys. The chute you used was a function of the mission, the type of aircraft you were jumping from and the conditions on the ground. It has been my pleasure to jump from 119’s, C130, C141, & choppers, all a different experience and a confidence builder that would be an asset to any mission.
    Looks like the future is in air assault, where choppers can get in and out at a moments notice.
    Still, Airborne All the Way

    • Sweet Old Bob

      C-119s?” My God, man, you’re lucky ‘chutes had been advanced from the De Vinci model.

  • damaj76

    am I that old ? use to jump using T10’s out of c119’s and Otters though I didn’t do the Otter

    • damaj76

      airborne all the way every day

  • Charles Hill

    So what is new????

    We in SEAL Team One at Coronado, CA were jumping the Ram-Air Parachute System in the 1960s.

    • De Oppresso Liber

      Really? The first mass produced ram air parachute was the Strato Star, a 5-cell main, which evolved shortly thereafter into the Strato Cloud, a 7-cell main. At the same time Paraflite was designing and marketing the Strato Star/Strato Cloud parachutes, [senior moment, it’ll come to me] was manufacturing the Para Foil, a 7-cell main with different attachment design for the suspension lines. All this was going on in the mid 70s (’74 – ’75 timeframe). I’d be willing to bet more than a case of beer that the SEALS weren’t jumping ram air parachutes in the 60s.


        THANK YOU ! For setting the record straight.. In the 70’s we were still jumping Rings and Ropes and Hoping the damn thing would open.. Long before the Slider and Three Ring Circus day’s…

      • Spurlockda

        Jalbert (spelling ?) Parafoil

    • Charles Hill

      My apologies for the misleading statement concerning the Navy and SEAL Team One. I did not mean to imply that the Navy or the SEAL Teams were using RAM-AIR systems in the 1960s. It’s been over fifty years and my memory isn’t what it used to be. In the 1960s I was a Test Parachutist at the DOD Joint Parachute Test Facility, El Centro, California. At the Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility (NARF) and the USAF 6511th Test Group (Parachute) we test jumped all types of parachutes, back, chest, seat, reserves, unmodified and modified, Also, the Para Commander which at the time was becoming very popular. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as a member of Under Water Demolition Team Eleven (UDT-11) and Seal Team One, between tours in Vietnam we were still jumping the standard round modified canopy. Some of us were jumping the Para Commander. In 1972, I purchased a Ram-Air canopy, the PARA-SLED, a five cell ram-air canopy. It was not issued by the Navy or the SEAL Team, it was my own personal rig. Some of us were authorized to jump our own personal special rigs.

      • Charles Hill

        Continuation: As a master rigger, I found the Para-Sled was an easy two man pack job and fun to jump. I left the Teams in 1975 and have only jumped a few times since then. I tried to attach a picture of me and the RAPA-SLED, however, I was not able to attach the photo. Once again, I apologize for my misleading statement. Thanks to those who responded, it made me go through some of my old files and find out just where I was and what I was doing in the 1960s and 1970s. Time flies when you are having fun.

      • Susana D

        Hello Charles Hill, I believe you may have known my father in El Centro 6511th Test Group. Could you please contact me at Nine Five One – Seven Six Three – Seven Zero Six Three I would love to talk with you. Susana

  • Mike

    It’s funny. We tested this concept at both 10th sfga and 3rd sfga back in 1996. Now we have a airborne unit that is testing it out that does not require this capability. Who is running these programs and will a new set of wings be designed.

  • Tom

    Excellent choice of of chute, a lot of control, I want to jump with one, I jumped from 85 til 88

  • jimghunter

    OK, I know I am an old, retired soldier, but what exactly is a C-127. I have jumped, C-123, C-130, C-141 and various choppers, UH-1, CH-46, CH-47, and CH-53. I am aware of the C-119, before my time, and my grandfather jumped a C-47.

    • John Mayeski

      They probably meant C-27 and accidentally put In the extra 1.

  • CEK

    We are just re-inventing the wheel !!!l lol Air Mobile !!!!

  • Rich Nix

    Anyone remember the C-7 Caribou !!!!!! 1/325 B Btry 3/4 ADA (Disbanded) Vulcan/Redeye

    • Doc Glock

      I do! I loved the Caribou! Great jumps!

  • Wmorgan44

    I’m all in for the new chutes, okay looks a lot more drivable than the old mushroom type we used in the 90’s.I just hope for all the soilders Fort Bragg right now that they made it for exiting Jets, because that’s all we normally need them for.

  • Mr. Airborne

    I love the mc6… That is all!

  • louie

    jumped off roof tops with a Umbrella before gettin to practice night assaults on my C-7 Caribu, T-10, MC-1, all out of various crafts, C119’s, C141’s, C130’s, C127’s, UH-1’s, CH-47’s, CH-53’s, heck we jumped as low as 150 feet but no one ever walked away from those jumps…to as high as 30,000 feet….we would call them jumpers icecycles….heck i hope you dont think this is real….just had to add a little humor to the blogs.

  • Gqshire

    What’s the difference between this chute and the MMPS the Marines use?