UK Army paratroopers competed against NATO airborne forces at the “Leapfest” international military parachuting competition to hone their skills and strengthen their relationship.
The contest was held at Elks Lodge, Newport and led by the Rhode Island Army National Guard.
Around 40 troops from UK Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team joined the event together with ground soldiers and airmen from seven nations, including the US Army and Air Force, German Luftlandebrigade 1 “Saarland,” Dutch 11 Luchtmobiele Brigade, and the Italian Brigata Parachutisti “Folgore.”
The troops competed individually and in teams of four, jumping from Chinook helicopters wearing MC-6 parachutes provided by the US Army.
From helicopters, the teams jumped from a height of 1,500 feet (457 meters) and aimed to land as close as possible to a marked point in the drop zone.
Individual jumps were evaluated based on the time a competitor’s feet hit the ground and touching the mark.
Building Relations Through Parachuting
After a two-year hiatus, the event helped to build new bonds with paratroopers from Colombia, New Zealand, and South Africa as well.
“Leapfest is a great opportunity to develop our parachuting skills and build links with airborne forces from across the world, particularly our NATO allies,” Maj. Aidy Mortimore of the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team Headquarters said.
“We’ve trained on a different parachute system and jumped from helicopters, which is not a UK capability, and that has broadened our skills and ability to operate with our allies,” the major explained. “But the real benefit of Leapfest is about talking to paratroopers from other armies to build on the existing relationships between us.”
“We’ve been able to develop our understanding of each other and can learn from how we all approach the same job in a slightly different way,” Mortimore added.