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Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate
By Operational Test Command Public Affairs Office
FORT HOOD, Texas, Jan. 28, 2005 – Operational Test Command's most unique test directorate is the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

A direct descendant of the original parachute test platoon created in 1940, this directorate is not only responsible for the testing of new parachutes and airborne equipment, but is also chartered to certify every item of Army equipment to be airdropped, airlifted, sling-loaded, or in any way transported or delivered by Army or Air Force aircraft.

Certification for every class and type of aircraft for airdrop of personnel and equipment, including new military, foreign and commercial aircraft, comes as a result of testing by this directorate and is finalized with the publication of approved airdrop rigging procedures in the appropriate technical and training manuals.

Directorate personnel conduct operational airdrop testing, using sophisticated data collection instrumentation to validate rigging procedures and ensure that the dropped equipment functions properly when employed on the ground.

The directorate personnel also perform extensive testing of soldier equipment to be employed in airborne operations, ranging from new personnel parachute systems to any new or modified combat equipment or individual weapons systems. The first soldiers to jump with a new item of

equipment, or utilizing a new procedure, will be the troopers assigned to the directorate before any operational testing by a regular airborne unit.

The directorate's Military Free-Fall Section tests numerous state-of-the-art components and procedures directly related to special operations forces infiltration and exfiltration requirements to meet both present day immediate operational needs and those of the future. These tests directly impact current and future special operations forces doctrine and deployment capabilities.

"Testing without documentation or measurement is opinion" according to the professionals in the Instrumentation Division. From a ground-based, high-tech video tracking system, to aerial photography from fixed or rotary wing aircraft, every possible visual action from exit to ground recovery is recorded.

The Electronics Branch uses state-of-the-art instrumentation placed on test jumpers or test loads to indicate and record specific test data as directed by the test officers. Data includes G-force opening shock load, heavy drop load force transfer, pitch-roll-yaw, and time-coded positional data.

The directorate has the critical responsibility to provide dynamic, responsive, and quality testing in order to meet the needs of the airborne and special operations communities.

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