British Army paratroopers have conducted their first low-level parachute jump from the Royal Air Force A400M Atlas C aircraft at Salisbury Plain.
The military transport aircraft will serve as the army’s future parachuting capability once the C-130J Hercules retires from service in 2023.
“It’s a great experience to get some jumps in and help develop the Atlas,” 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery Bombardier Daniel Murray said.
“It’s all been straightforward and familiar – the parachute and all of the procedures inside the plane are the same, and there’s more space in the Atlas which makes it easier with all the kit we jump with.”
UK Global Response Force
The paratroopers included soldiers from the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team. The Colchester-based combat team is part of the British Army’s global response force unit.
During the trial, the Royal Air Force’s No. 206 Squadron assisted the paratroopers in safe-fitting and equipment checks, dispatch, and static line recovery.
The squadron serves as the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit, the team responsible for heavy aircraft assessment in UK military aviation.
“Across a wide range of strategic and tactical scenarios, parachuting retains significant relevance for contemporary operations through enabling us to hold the initiative,” 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team Airborne Plans Officer Maj. Aden Philpott explained.
“We can take off from the UK to deliver troops by parachute to where they are needed rapidly, outmanoeuvring the enemy and putting us in position to win the first battle when, where and how we want to fight it.“
The Atlas is “in a good position to take over from the Hercules in 2023” as it can carry out other tactical operations, including air-to-air refueling, air-drop supplies, and natural surface landing, according to Atlas Program Senior Manager Air Commodore Andy Martin.
“The successful initiation of mass low-level parachuting trials on the Atlas represents a major milestone for the Atlas Capability Programme,” Martin said.
“The Atlas has a key role to play in our future, offering a significant boost to our capabilities through its ability to carry more paratroopers over a greater distance,” Philpott added.