(Yuma, AZ., September 24, 2008) -- Airborne Systems, a world leader in parachute design and manufacturing, announced they successfully completed a test drop of a precision guided cargo delivery system capable of carrying 42,000 pounds under a single ram-air parachute. The new system, called the GigaFly, was successfully deployed from a C-130 aircraft at 15,000 feet carrying a 33,000 lb load. The system landed fully autonomously at a gentle 14 feet per second rate-of-descent less than 275-m from the intended point of impact.
GigaFly is a 10,400 square foot ram-air parachute, also known as a parafoil, with a wingspan of 195 feet it is nearly as wide as the wings on a Boeing 747 (211-ft). Designed for airdrop at altitudes as high as 25,000 feet, GigaFly guides itself to a designated point on the ground from up to 22 kilometers away using its specially designed on board GPS guidance unit and software.
MegaFly(tm), a similar system featured on the History Channel television series "Modern Marvels" and successfully dropped over 30 times, is capable of carrying 30,000 lbs. "The demand for an accurate heavy payload aerial delivery system led the army to develop this kind of new technology," said Brian Bagdonovich, Program Manager, for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier RDE Center. "The 42K parafoil has the potential to provide the Army with high altitude precision airdrop capability for bulk supply, equipment and vehicles within the existing capability range of LVADS (Low Velocity Aerial Delivery Systems)"
The GigaFly adds to the company's current range of precision delivery equipment which is now capable of dropping from 100 lbs to 42,000 lbs. Airborne Systems' entire family of JPADS platforms uses common hardware and software architecture to ensure maximum interoperability and minimum training and logistics burden in theater. The U.S. Army selected Airborne Systems' FireFly(tm) for their 2K (2,000 lb) platform and DragonFly(tm) for their standard 10K (10,000 lb) JPADS platform. The GigaFly test was conducted as part of a US Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center development program. According to the program manager, "GigaFly is the largest ram-air ever to be deployed successfully and without the use of pyrotechnics. What has been accomplished here both technically and physically is remarkable."