New parachute system for SA’s elite soldiers

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Soldiers going through gear inspection of the new High Altitude Parachute System (HAPS). Photo: André Grobler

The SA Army, and more specifically 44 Parachute Regiment in Bloemfontein, has taken delivery of a new parachute system for the country’s elite soldiers. The new High Altitude Parachute System (HAPS) can be used for both high altitude low opening (HALO) and high altitude high opening (HAHO) jumps.

Lieutenant Colonel Laurel Thatcher of 44 Parachute Regiment showing the High Altitude Parachute System (HAPS) gear. Photo: André Grobler
Lieutenant Colonel Laurel Thatcher of 44 Parachute Regiment showing the High Altitude Parachute System (HAPS) gear. Photo: André Grobler

The final training and acceptance of the system, which also include Parachute Simulators, have already begun on August 15 at 44 Parachute Regiment and will be completed by 2 September.

General Officer Commanding, SA Army Infantry Formation Major General, Rudzani Maphwanya. Photo: André Grobler
General Officer Commanding, SA Army Infantry Formation Major General, Rudzani Maphwanya. Photo: André Grobler

The General Officer Commanding, SA Army Infantry Formation Major General, Rudzani Maphwanya, took possession of the system at Tempe. He said the new system will help with the unique ability to get specially trained soldiers on the ground behind enemy lines. Maphwanya says the new system will benefit South Africa’s Pathfinder and Special Force units to compete favourably with other world-class airborne units.

Soldiers going through gear inspection of the new High Altitude Parachute System (HAPS). Photo: André Grobler
Soldiers going through gear inspection of the new High Altitude Parachute System (HAPS). Photo: André Grobler

Lieutenant Colonel Laurel Thatcher of 44 Parachute Regiment says the old system was cumbersome and limiting in terms of height and the time jumpers could use oxygen at extreme heights. The new system gives a jumper 80 minutes of breathing air while the old system only gave 15 minutes. The type of parachute now used will be more versatile and can carry more weight, enabling soldiers to jump with more equipment. – andreg@centralmediagroup.co.za

André Grobler / Bloemfontein Courant