US Army Tests New Paratrooper Flotation Device

Soldiers from the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Special Forces Group have participated in the final trial of a new device designed to save the lives of paratroopers landing in water.

Dubbed the Parachutist Flotation Device (PFD), the new equipment has flotation bladders that can be inflated through an oral inflation tube or a carbon dioxide gas cylinder to keep soldiers afloat upon landing.

According to Senior Mechanical Engineer Dan Shedd, the device is a lifesaver for troopers in combat near bodies of water. “In real-world scenarios, this critical time allows recovery teams to locate and extract jumpers in the event of a water landing,” he said in a press release.

Meanwhile, platoon sergeant and jumpmaster Steven Branch commended the PFD, saying the equipment is much easier to rig for static line operations. He commented that he and his colleagues barely noticed that they were wearing the device while parachuting.

“It can easily suspend a soldier with combat equipment for a long time if needed. Overall, I was very impressed with every aspect of the PFD,” he remarked.

‘Intense Attention to Detail Required’

As early as mid-April, the army tested the new device with the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD). Paratroopers reportedly performed intentional water landings on Jordan Lake in North Carolina.

ABNSOTD executive officer Maj. Camden S. Jordan explained that the service had to coordinate with local emergency management, law enforcement, and state wildlife agencies before conducting the trials.

Another official from ABNSOTD, Sgt. 1st Class John Reed, stated that the team relied on community support to execute the test, as local emergency services were present during the trials.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan R. Copley said that when a soldier uses the equipment, he must pay “intense attention to detail,” properly wearing the PFD and knowing how the system responds during airborne exercises.


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