FORT BRAGG, North Carolina -- Soldiers from the XVIII Airborne Corps performed airdrop certification testing on the M-1097 with Modification here recently.

The M-1097 modification initial and subsequent Low Velocity Airdrop and Sling Load capability scheduled through March 2018 is needed to provide an enhanced Tactical Mobility interim solution for the 82nd Airborne Division Joint Forcible Entry Operations.

The modification required only minor alterations to the platform and is bolted to the existing frame.

During the test, Soldiers participate in rigging the M-1097 Modification for airdrop from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft on Sicily Drop Zone here, followed by recovery procedures to make sure the system was fully operational after airdrop insertion.

Six successful airdrops and a helicopter sling load test was required for full certification.

"What we do is use Soldiers to test current and possible future Army equipment and systems in a real-world training environment," said Staff Sgt. Jon Weymouth, Project NCO with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command's Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate. "Our great Nation's Soldiers deserve only the very best equipment that is survivable and sustainable on the modern battlefield."

The M-1097 Modification will provide Soldiers and their leaders an air-droppable, sling-loadable, light tactical vehicle that can carry a nine-man squad. It has a turret-mounted crew serve weapon stop gap capability until the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is fielded.

The M-1097 Modification when installed consists of a light-weight roll cage, a weapons station turret, cargo area side boards, and four additional rear seats with restraints.

"Operational testing is USAOTCs opportunity to contribute to readiness; anything less compromises the Army's ability to provide the forces that fight and win the Nation's wars," said Lt. Col. Gregory Oquendo, ABNSOTD Test Division Chief.

"Any time Soldiers and their leaders get involved in operational testing, they have the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future Soldiers will use in combat," said Chris Akana, a Data Manager for 14 years.

Other tests underway at ABNSOTD include an airdrop certification of the Air Droppable Airfield Damage Repair Kit and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Highly-instrumented test drops by ABNSOTD will help test overall survivability of the vehicles in Airborne operations.

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About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command

USAOTC 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 operate. 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.

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.