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Advanced Low-Level Parachute System



OBJECTIVE: Develop a low-level parachute system to insert forces while allowing the aircraft to fly faster and lower than current systems.

DESCRIPTION: Current military low-level parachute systems take one of two paths. Non-maneuverable systems allow for many parachutists in the air or maneuverable systems with limited glide capabilities. Current systems were designed to operate in a mountainous environment and do not emphasize a lower operational altitude. The current systems utilize a front mounted reserve that interferes with the wearing of combat equipment. Current building, antenna, span, and earth (BASE) parachute systems are regularly used at altitudes of less than 500 ft. above ground level (AGL) with initial velocities, both horizontal and vertical, of zero. Advances in the use of lightweight fabric and innovative sewing methods allow BASE parachute systems to minimize system weight.An Advanced Low-Level (ALL) parachute system could combine the innovations of the commercial BASE parachute systems, paraglider reserves, and possibly static line military systems. The design needs to provide a consistent on-heading opening while dissipating the energy from the exit speed and allowing for glide to a small drop zone. The challenges of speed, weight, and altitude pose the greatest risk to a successful design.Developing an ALL parachute system could replace the current low-level parachute system. The ALL parachute system could require a different sized system to meet the weight and range requirement. The ALL parachute system must include reliability and safety systems for personnel operations. Proposed systems should meet the following performance specifications:Minimum exit altitude:Threshold (T) 750 ft. AGL Objective (O) 500 ft. AGL Dropzone height:(T) 2,000 feet Mean Sea Level (MSL) Objective (O) 4,500 ft. MSL Weight capacity not including ALL system:(T) 105-300 lbs.(O) 105-330 lbs. Aircraft exit speed:(T) 145 knot indicated air speed (KIAS) (O) 150 KIAS Dropzone size:(T) 360m X 270m (O) 240m X 180m

PHASE I: Develop concepts for an ALL parachute system meeting the requirements described above. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and establish the concepts for development into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Use material testing and analytical modeling to establish feasibility, as appropriate. Provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones and that addresses technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype for evaluation to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for the ALL parachute system. Demonstrate system performance through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Use evaluation results to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Marine Corps requirements. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.

PHASE III: Support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. Determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. Support the Marine Corps in test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use.Low level parachutes are currently used primarily as recreational in the United States. New parachute systems could be used by airborne firefighting services to increase reliability and improve access to remote fires. New designs could be utilized by companies interested in delivering items in Class G airspace.

KEYWORDS: Parachute, Static Line, BASE, Canopy, Lightweight Fabric, Sewing


1. Mohammadi, Mohammad A. & Johari, Hamid. “Computation of Flow over a High-Performance Parafoil Canopy.” Journal of Aircraft, 47, 2010, pp. 1338-1345. doi:10.2514/1.47363. 2. Eslambolchi, Ali & Johari, Hamid. “Simulation of Flowfield Around a Ram-Air Personnel Parachute Canopy.” Journal of Aircraft, 50, 2013. doi: 10.2514/6.2013-1281. 3. Soreide, Kjetil, Ellingsen, Christian Lycke and Vibeke Knutson. “How Dangerous Is BASE Jumping? An Analysis of Adverse Events in 20,850 Jumps From the Kjerag Massif, Norway.” The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care 62, no. 5, May 2007, pp. 1113–1117. doi:10.1097/01.ta.0000239815.73858.88.

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