Fort Bragg, North Carolina -- Special Forces (SF) Soldiers from throughout the United States Army Special Forces Command jumped the new Parachute Navigation System (PARANAVSYS) during operational testing at Laurinburg, N.C. recently.

The PARANAVSYS is an individual Soldier system of systems designed to assist with planning and execution of high altitude stand-off, military free fall (MFF) parachute operations.

According to Lt. Col. Greg Oquendo, Chief of Test Division, Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD), the U.S. Army Operational Test Command (USAOTC) uses Soldiers to collect data in realistic mission environments to evaluate the survivability, suitability, and reliability of the PARANAVSYS.

During the test, Soldiers participated in New Equipment Training (NET) which included familiarization followed by day and night MFF, High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) and High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) parachute jumps at various altitudes up to 24,999 feet Mean Sea level with exit distances of up to 27 miles from the designated landing area.

SF weapons sergeants from 5th Special Forces Group supporting the test, said their participation provided a first-person point of view in what their teams need to improve their ability to perform MFF operations.

"I gained a lot of experience with the system and jump proficiency in general," said a Senior Communications Sergeant with 10th Special Forces Group.

The PARANAVSYS provides Soldiers and their leaders real-time tactical-level knowledge sharing and command and control (C2), which directly impacts combat effectiveness and decision-making.

"We use Soldiers to test current and possible future Army equipment and systems in a real-world training environment, because our great nation's Soldiers deserve only the very best equipment that is survivable and sustainable on the modern battlefield," said Mike Tracy, chief of ABNSOTD's Personnel and Special Operations Test Branch.

The End User Device (EUD) connects to the Army's Joint Tactical Radio System, which provides network connectivity for improved communications within the network and compatible devices.

"Operational testing provides the Soldier a voice within the acquisition community," said Col. Brad Mock, director, ABNSOTD. "Soldiers and test units have the ability to impact the development of systems by training, while executing doctrinally-realistic missions, and then provide direct input to the combat developer of the system" Soldier feedback is invaluable."

An SF Warrant Officer 2 from 3rd Special Forces Group said that working with jumpers from other units while supporting the test helped expand his MFF knowledge, while jumping with the equipment also allowed him to bring the experiences back to other Soldiers in his unit.

Brian Hoffman, test engineer, Program Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment (PM-SPIE) out of U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center Laboratories in Natick, Massachusetts, said the Department of Defense depends on ABNSOTD for advice and validation of questions or procedures that pertain to anything Airborne and that the Army is on track to start fielding the PARANAVSYS during fiscal year 2018.

Other tests underway at ABNSOTD include an airdrop certification of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), the chosen replacement vehicle for the Humvee and the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV-25A2) Mobile Protective Firepower (MPF). Highly-instrumented test drops by ABNSOTD will help test overall survivability of the vehicles in combat.

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The U.S. Army Operational Test Command is based at West Fort Hood, Texas and its mission is about making sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers offer their feedback, which influences the future by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems that Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight with.

The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate plans, executes, and reports on operational tests and field experiments of Airborne and Special Operations Forces equipment, procedures, aerial delivery and air transportation systems in order to provide key operational data for the continued development and fielding of doctrine, systems or equipment to the Warfighter.