Airbus say that the Airbus A400M has successfully achieved certification of the simultaneous paratrooper dispatch capability.

Airbus have completed development of the type’s paratrooping deployment capacity, with a maximum dispatch of 116 paratroopers using both side doors (58 + 58).

The certification fight test, completed in May 2020 in coordination with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) and supported by the French and Belgian Armed Forces, combined an extensive paratrooping campaign of more than 1,000 jumps along with the implementation of new capability development methodologies based on recording and 3D modelling of paratrooper jump trajectories.

“This certification completes a challenging journey to achieve this next generation capability. The achievement reinforces the strategic value the A400M already offers to air force operators and society, as demonstrated during Covid-19 times,” said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space.

With the completion of this key milestone, the A400M is able to carry 116 paratroopers able to jump two at a time from the ramp in freefall, or through the paratroop side doors with automatic parachute opening, a capability that greatly increments its operational possibilities.

The picture above, provided by Airbus, shows the successful dispatch of paratroopers during the flight test campaign over Ger Azet drop zone in southern France in September 2019.

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Rob

Any Paras out there? If you jump 58 troops from each door won’t the spread of landings be much longer say than 30 from a single door Dakota or 60 out of a two door Herc? It sounds great dropping a company from a single aircraft but they are going to land quite far apart. Also the all the eggs in one basket argument applies here.

Andy P

Does the UK still drop paratroops ‘in anger’ ? Guessing this is just a capability rather than something we actually need or require. Might be wrong, the missus seems to think I am all the time.

DaveyB

Yes, Afghan was the last “official” conflict that a parachute infil was done. OK, not by the Paras directly, but some of those who did it, were once Para’s before volunteering for a different regiment!

Daniele Mandelli

As Davey says, UKSF.

As for the Paras proper, of 2 and 3 Battalions PR one is “in role” as part of the Air Assault Task Force. I don’t think more than company sized drop but even so the capability remains.

DaveyB

I didn’t say UKSF, you can’t hold that one on me guv!

Daniele Mandelli

True….sorry chief. You implied “them” 😆

Sceptical Richard

When I was Airbus head of programme in the U.K. and attended most of the programme review meetings with the RAF’s SRO and all his Capability Development Managers, one of the Capability Milestones the UK had was to drop an entire Regiment(?) from a 14 ship formation. As the years went by and some of the earlier milestones were achieved, this particular milestone (which was late on in the programme) got quietly dropped. You’re basically right Andy P, U.K. no longer drops large formations. Deemed as too risky. But they still do a lot of Special Forces and other specialist… Read more »

Andy P

Cheers Richard (and the others who answered), it was more the mass jumps I was guessing were now stopped rather than the more ‘niche’ ones. It was just the ideas that we’d need to drop that many in a oner that stood out as something that was sooooo last century.

Sceptical Richard

Yes Andy, yet the nations have made Airbus spend millions testing and redesigning parts of the aeroplane to achieve this result stipulated in the Contract all those years ago, and as you say, none of them will actually ever use it. Much more likely scenario is a single small drop by SF to temporarily secure a improvised unprepared LZ and set up a landing aid, followed by a number of very quick insertions and take-offs with engines running and tailgate down before aircraft has come to a stop, all in the dark flying at low level. All over before you… Read more »

Daveyb

A country that still has the mass insertion of troops by parachute as part of their MOs, look no further than Russia. They are still investing in new equipment that can be air dropped in to a conflict zone, such as the 2S25 Sprut-SD light tank. Apparently it is supposed to be parachuted in with the crew inside – bugger that! It’s bad enough with a Bergen dangling 10ft below you, let alone being strapped to a 20t light tank. If you can find it, there were clips on YouTube of “Spetznas” jumping out of a plane about 500ft up,… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I recall we dabbled with dropping CVRT a few times on a pallet? A squadron from HCR was once allocated to support 16AA / 5th Airborne.

Nothing like the firepower of the Russians though.

Airborne

Yes mate always had a HCR Sqn allocated to the Brigade, with one troop able to be dropped using heavy drop. The pallets were in fact called MSPs, medium stresed platforms, which were prepped by the equipment operators the day before the lob. The heavy drop would come in after the initial pax drop, asp preferably but usually 15-30 mins after. It would consist of the Light gun Troop, 3 guns, Sigs landrovers, HQ Coy comms landrovers, more mortar and arty ammo etc. It’s a capability which we still have but not trained for or properly resourced for quite some… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Hi mate. Thank you.

Question. Do the FS Companies of the battalions operate Jackal?

Airborne

Yes mate, Jackal with GMG and 50 cal, decent bit of kit as a stable weapons platform.

Daniele Mandelli

Good. I suspected but was not sure. Can they be MSPd into theatre or are they just airlanded in instead?

Airborne

Airlanded mate as no MSP configured to accept, but my info could be out of date mate, cheers.

Glass Half Full

I don’t think the US has given up on the concept either. Jumping from C-17 in 2016.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMqoCJPDojo

Airborne

Mate the concept of ops for UK forces on an operational jump is 400 feet using the LLP, low level parachute with no reserve. The risk of a slow opener or even full malfunction is pretty rare and acceptable in a possible opposed operational jump. Cheers

Daveyb

Never tried the LLP, was always freefall after graduating from static line at 1000ft, i.e. jumping from 25,000ft and opening between 1500 and 1000ft. To much like base jumping for me.

Airborne

Davey thanks for the info on freefall, however I am up to speed on that as well mate lol, cheers.

Daveyb

It was just in case you fell on your head too much. I know what you Paras were like.

Airborne

Mate fair point! Stay safe.

Longtime

Yes bigger spread and yes eggs in 1 basket analogy is also a risk. BUT if you Want 100 boots on the ground quickly in a contested air environment, 1 aircraft doing 1 run is better than many of either. It’s not going to be a often used capability but nice to have options on the table.

Rob

‘Contested airspace.’ It would just be shot down by a SAM. Not having a go at the Paras but, in modern warfare, they are great getting fabulous infantry where they are needed as long as the opposition aren’t a competent state player. Can’t see 16 Bde conducting ‘Market Garden’ like ops against any nation state with a proper air defence.

Steve

I suspect this is why a large scale para drop would not happen in a peer or near peer conflict, but i guess under certain scenarios where the element of surprise exists or where your dropping wide of a defensive force, it could still be a viable tactic.

Airborne

Rob remember that deploying by parachute is just one option, one capability which ensures that any enemy has to take that capability into his planning considerations and act upon it. The more options we have the better mate.

DaveyB

How about this for an option:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc6aI7Dih8M

At some point, someone is going to try an jump from an aircraft with this suit!

Airborne

Rob I will give your reasonable question some answers. Firstly mate an operational drop, using a full Battalion Group with the LLP would be around 4-500 feet, without reserve, so less time in the air to reduce vulnerability and the closer the lads land. The run in and length of DZ would be checked and laid out by the PF lads and minimum airframes on the run in means less possibility of a cluster fuck! Second is the eggs in one basket, not an issue as all airframes are tactically loaded ie so many lads from the rifle/support Companies RHA/AD/RE/Loggies… Read more »

Hogstable

Veey well put mate. I was going to say the go in low and then pop up to drop. Sadly most of the mob has big gaps…..

Rob

Airborne, thanks good answers.

Mike Saul

Last meaningful combat para drop by the UK was Suez 1956.

It will most likely the the final one as well.

Airborne

Quantify meaningful mate? as if it’s you under that canopy, no matter the size of the jump its fucking meaningful….lol cheers