The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a 16t capacity heavy drop system (HDS) to enhance the national army's ability to airdrop military stores, including vehicles, supplies and ammunition.
Developed by DRDO's Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE), three system prototypes have also met performance parameters during two successful drops at an undisclosed location.
Primarily designed for paradropping of military vehicles, including BMP class and ammunition trolleys from IL-76 heavy lift aircraft, the system is claimed to be an extension of technology developed by DRDO for P-7 HDS, the 7t capacity HDS already accepted by the Indian Army.
Indian defence minister scientific advisor and Department of Defence R&D secretary, Avinash Chander, said the system offers 'drop and drive' capability and once inducted, would considerably enhance the capabilities of armed forces.
The system features a parachute sub-system and platform sub-system, which in turn consists of a set of removable wheels that facilitates transport of load to the airfield, and a platform fastening and release lock (PFRL) for safe carriage and release of load in/from the aircraft during all flight manoeuvre conditions and emergency landing.
The parachute system features two auxiliary and five main parachutes, which reduce the descent rate to desired speed at touchdown, and are released by an automatic disengage unit (ADU) on impact with ground to avoid dragging and toppling of load due to high surface winds.
Extensively tested during the technical and users trials at different types of drop zones in planes, deserts and high altitude areas, the re-usable system can be utilised to provide drop practice to the soldiers during regular military training.
The system also participated in army's Excope 2009 exercise with the US Air Force and in demonstration at Pokhran, Rajasthan, India, during its development phase.
Image: DRDO's new heavy drop system during a demonstration. Photo: courtesy of DRDO.