By Mr. Richard Hedgecock, Military Test Plans Analyst, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command

FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – Airborne equipment testers here are busy with Special Operations Soldiers testing the Army’s newest Enhanced Electronic Automatic Activation Device (EEAAD).

The Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD) 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 (MFF) 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.

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 a MFF qualified test jumper,” said James Cochran (JC), 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,” he said.

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,” he added.

The operational testing consisted of new user training and military free fall jumps followed by data collection of jump data, downloaded from the EEAAD.

“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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About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

The U.S. Army Operational Test Command is based at West Fort Hood, Texas, and its mission ensures systems developed are effective in a Soldier’s hands and suitable for the environments in which they train and fight. Test unit Soldiers provide feedback by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight.

The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based Airborne the Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD) plans, executes, and reports on operational tests and field experiments of aerial delivery and air transportation equipment and procedures for airborne and special operations forces to provide key operational data for the continued development of doctrine and fielding of equipment to the Warfighter.