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US Special Operations soldiers test new parachute automatic activation device



U.S. Special Operations soldiers are testing the Army’s newest Enhanced Electronic Automatic Activation Device. Richard Hedgecock, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, reports.
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Operational testers with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command conduct military free-fall operations as part of the Army’s Enhanced Electronic Automatic Activation Device (EEAAD) operational test. (Picture source: Jim Finney, Combined Technical Services, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate)


The U.S. Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate is gathering data from the operational user to support an Army-wide fielding decision to replace the aging reserve automatic activation device currently fielded to military free-fall units. “The EEAAD provides the capability of the rigger shop to download the data instantly, which is not provided by the currently fielded automated activation device,” said a parachute rigger with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The ABNSOTD first completed risk reduction efforts for the EEAAD using only ABNSOTD test jumpers to ensure that the intended test item did not impose additional and unforeseen risks or hazards to the jumper before operational test jumps.


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A U.S. Army Special Operations Command Operator conducts vertical wind tunnel training as part of the Army’s Enhanced Electronic Automatic Activation Device (EEAAD) operational test. (Picture source: Jim Finney, Combined Technical Services, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate)


Operational testing started in the vertical wind tunnel. “This allowed the test team to observe the approach load system under simulated free-fall conditions being employed by an MFF qualified test jumper,” said James Cochran, a seasoned military test plans analyst with the ABNSOTD. “The ABNSOTD employed a host of risk reduction measures to ensure the potential test item was safe and effective from the intended user’s standpoint.”

Operational Soldiers from USASOC finished testing with the RA-1 main parachute and reserve with the EEAAD installed by conducting MFF test jumps into the Laurinburg, North Carolina drop zone. “The EEAAD will not only provide MFF operators with a next-generation reserve parachute activation device but will also facilitate after-action reviews,” said Lt. Col Derek Johnson, Chief of ABNSOTD’s test division. “The EEAAD will also support jump incident investigations by providing the ability to download and analyze flight data at the unit level.”

The operational testing consisted of new user training and military free-fall jumps followed by data collection of jump data, downloaded from the EEAAD. Initial reception by operational users has been positive. “The simplicity of the menus and setting provides more confidence to the jumper that the device will work as expected,” said one USASOC Operator.


 

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