Paratroopers have tested a first-ever load system designed for them, and researchers are improving to field to airborne units.

Researchers with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center labs in Massachusetts have worked with soldiers to design the system, dubbed the Airborne Tactical Assault Panel, to fit paratrooper load and needs, according to information from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command.

The design aims for greater comfort, mobility and safety during static line airborne infiltrations, Rich Landry of the Soldier Systems lab said in a release.

Older models of load systems were not designed to properly fit the main parachute harness and moved the reserve chute activation handle farther from the paratrooper’s hand.

The new design allows rigging the fighting load under the reserve chute.

“This will allow paratroopers to properly adjust the T-11 parachute harness to their specific size requirements and keep the T-11 reserve parachute handle within reach,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ian Seymour, a test NCO for the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate.

The load system’s tactical assault panel can be reconfigured to use as a chest rig after landing, said Mike Tracy, deputy test division chief at the directorate.

Recent tests by soldiers with the 57th Sapper Company, 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will help add data to the lab’s research and improve upon the design before it is fielded for training and operational use, Tracy said.

Officials did not provide information on when the new load system is likely to complete testing and when it will be issued to airborne units.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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