JUNE 14, 2021 – Soldiers assigned to the North Carolina National Guard’s 403rd Rigger Support Team (403rd RST) spent five days training on the newly fielded Joint Precision Air Drop System (JPADS) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, June 7-11, 2021.
The training will allow the Guardsmen to pack and prepare the new parachute system and train new Soldiers who come to their unit.
Traditional parachute systems require planes to fly directly over the target to drop cargo. However, the new system will allow aircraft to fly 25,000 feet above the target and offset up to 12 kilometers.
One of the instructors, Clint Browning, a cargo parachute equipment specialist with Tanks and Automotive Command, Integrated Logistics Support Center, said the JPADS one of the significant changes to the new system was the ability to guide itself onto a target.
“You can be very sneaky,” he said. “You can be very high up and very far away, drop the system, and it will fly to its designated point using military GPS.”
The self-flying parachute is powered by a modular autonomous guidance unit that provides the parachute canopy’s brain and flight control system.
The five-day-long training allowed Guardsmen to get their hands on the new parachute system, ensuring they can properly pack them for future operations.
Sgt. Emilee Rolins, a parachute rigger assigned to the 403rd RST, participated in the training said the new parachutes would enhance the North Carolina National Guard’s air-drop capabilities.
“This will help us with the bigger canopies,” she said. “This will let us drop a lot heavier things, and it will be more accurate where we drop it.”
The JPADS also allows units like the 403rd RST to program the system to avoid obstacles and avoid enemy interruption.
“The enemy won’t see it coming or interrupt it,” Rolins said. “As long as you put in the coordinates and where it needs to go, it will fly there within 10 meters.”
Soldiers in the 403rd RST take pride in their job and their support to other units; to date, the company has never had a parachute malfunction.
“I like being out on the drop zone watching canopies open knowing I did that, or my unit did that alongside me and getting troopers to the ground safely without any malfunctions,” Rolins said.
This is one of many ways the North Carolina National Guard has embraced new technology to increase its effectiveness across the force.
Story by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell
382nd Public Affairs Detachment