Airdrop Equipment Delivery
Free drop, high-velocity drop, low-velocity drop, HALO, and LAPES are different types of air deliveries. This method allows quick, nearly simultaneous delivery of the force. Planners choose any terrain free of obstacles that allows the assault force to land on or close to objectives. In some cases and with special equipment, it can deliver into rough terrain.
The C-130 can deliver personnel, equipment or supplies either by landing or by various aerial delivery modes. In the first, parachutes pull the load, weighing up to 42,000 pounds, from the aircraft. When the load is clear of the plane, cargo parachutes inflate and lower the load to the ground. The second method, called the Container Delivery System, uses the force of gravity to pull from one to 16 bundles of supplies from the aircraft. When the bundles, weighing up to 2,200 pounds each, are out of the aircraft, parachutes inflate and lower them to the ground.
Free drop (less than 600 feet AGL) requires no parachute or retarding device. The airdrop crew can use energy-dissipating materiel around the load to lessen the shock when it hits the ground at a rate of 130 to 150 feet a second. Fortification or barrier material, clothing in bales, and other such items can be free dropped.
High-velocity airdrop (400 to 600 feet AGL) uses parachutes, which have enough drag to hold the load upright during the descent at 70 to 90 feet a second, to stabilize loads. Army parachute riggers place airdrop cargo on energy-dissipating material and rig it in an airdrop container. This method works well for subsistence, packaged POL products, ammunition, and other such items. The ground commander may use the standard high-velocity delivery system, which is the container delivery system, to deliver accompanying and follow-on supplies; they can be delivered within an area 400 by 100 meters. A CDS is the most favored means of resupply; it is also the most accurate of all airdrop methods. Each pallet holds up to 2,200 pounds. A C-130 holds up to 16 of these containers, while a C-141B holds up to 40. Planners should calculate the CARP near AAs or resupply points.
Low-velocity airdrop (1,100 feet or less AGL, depending on DZ size) requires cargo parachutes. Crews rig items on an airdrop platform or in an airdrop container. They put energy-dissipating material beneath the load to lessen the shock when it hits the ground. Cargo parachutes attached to the load reduce the rate of descent to no more than 28 feet a second. Fragile materiel, vehicles, and artillery can be low-velocity airdropped. Heavy drop is used by airborne forces most often to deliver vehicles, bulk cargo, and equipment. Airdrop aircraft deliver heavy-drop equipment just ahead of the main body or, if following personnel drops, at least 30 minutes after the last paratrooper exits. For night drops, the heavy drop precedes personnel drops. Door bundles and wedges procedure requires the use of either the A7A cargo sling or the A21 cargo bag. With these, aircraft personnel can drop unit loads of up to 500 pounds just before the first soldier's exit. Local SOPs dictate the number and type of door bundles that specific aircraft can drop.
HALO is used by airborne forces to airdrop supplies and equipment at high altitudes when aircraft must fly above the threat air defense umbrella. The rigged load is pulled from the aircraft by a stabilizing parachute and free falls to a low altitude where a cargo parachute opens to allow a low-velocity landing.
Low-altitude parachute extraction system [LAPES] uses extraction parachutes to airdrop palletized loads and equipment from airlift aircraft flying about 5 to 10 feet above the ground. The extraction parachute that pulls the rigged load from the aircraft also helps to slow the platform and load as it slides across the EZ. Some airfields and EZs require special preparation for a LAPES delivery. Airborne forces can use the LAPES to deliver vehicles, artillery, ammunition, supplies, equipment, and water. It is a reliable way to rapidly introduce outsized or heavy loads (such as the M551 Sheridan) and bulk supplies (such as ammunition and fuel). It allows accurate delivery into small perimeters. Adverse weather conditions, such as excessive surface or altitude winds or low ceilings, inhibit airdrop, but they do not preclude the use of the LAPES. Airdrops by the LAPES can be accurately delivered on plateaus, mountains, cratered airfields, or assault LZs, and among other obstacles. The LAPES reduces aircraft radar signature; it allows the aircraft to avoid enemy air defense systems by flying low, and it negates having to defend against ground fire. once ground forces have cleared the EZ. aircraft can deliver LAPES airdrops in any sequence. Units must arrange the time, personnel, and equipment to derig and remove the delivered LAPES load from the EZ before that EZ can be used for another load. They can facilitate this by preparing multiple/parallel EZs.
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