JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — Dec. 9, 2021, Paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, “Spartan Brigade,” tested an experimental Airborne Sled on Malemute Drop Zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The sled takes less than two minutes to assemble and requires no tools. It removes weight directly from the paratrooper’s body by distributing it across the ground and increases their speed during snow movement across ice or deep snow.
“Right now I’m cruising,” said Sgt, Andrew Allen, the Paratrooper selected to test the sled during an airborne operation. “I have no strain on my body and I’m not worried about carrying a parachute or front loading anything.”
Paratroopers in Alaska carry more than 100 pounds of equipment across frozen drop zones to reach their assembly areas. The T-11 parachute main canopy, harness, and reserve assembly weigh a total of 53 pounds. A ruck sack packed with Arctic winter survival gear can weigh upwards of 50 pounds.
Operating in the extreme cold increases the rate of fatigue and potential for injury. Deep snow and icy surfaces can be treacherous to navigate with heavy equipment. Every ounce added to a paratrooper’s packing list is carefully considered.
“You can jump with this sled. It fits inside your large MOLLE,” said Allen. “When you pull it out and assemble it, it’s like a Christmas sled. You put all your gear into the sled, parachute included, clip it to yourself, and move on.”
The Airborne Sled offers the additional benefit of providing protection to personal equipment when packed inside the MOLLE rucksack, and multiple sleds can be used after airborne operations are complete to provide enhanced shelter from the elements or move casualties in emergencies.
Right now I’m cruising. This is absolutely amazing. I have no strain on my body, not worried about carrying a parachute, front loading anything. It’s a lot easier.
The Airborne Sled is a project developed by SPARwerx, the Spartan Brigade’s digital technology innovation cell that crowdsources innovators from across the brigade to develop internal technologies, systems, and concepts to maximize the welfare, safety and efficiency of Arctic paratroopers.