...By Gift BADEWO for TDPel Media.
US Special Forces Commandos Injured by Parachute Malfunctions
Several US special forces commandos have been seriously injured or killed due to unexpected parachute malfunctions inside aircraft.
According to a Washington Post report, a Navy SEAL, an Air Force commando, and an Army Green Beret were among those affected by catastrophic malfunctions with T-11 reserve parachutes since 2014.
Most of the victims were jumpmasters, the experienced parachutists who lean out of the aircraft to spot drop zones, and their chest-mounted reserve parachutes activated when wind gusts caught the lightweight fabric ripcords.
A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed awareness of these incidents but referred questions about safety procedures to the service branches.
Lawsuit Filed Against T-11 Manufacturer
Army Staff Sgt. Brycen Erdody, a Green Beret medic, nearly died last year when his T-11 reserve parachute opened unexpectedly after a wind gust came through an aircraft door.
He survived, but was severely injured and partially lost his arm. In a federal lawsuit filed this week, Erdody has named T-11 manufacturer Airborne Systems, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is not the first lawsuit against Airborne Systems over alleged defects with the T-11.
Design Criticisms and Military Response
Critics of the T-11 parachute design argue that the ripcord fabric is more sensitive to strong winds than the parachute it replaced a decade ago, which used a metal ripcord.
There are signs that military leaders were aware of the issues with the T-11 and had taken steps to address them.
In January 2021, the Army’s Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate tested updated versions of the T-11 to eliminate the potential for premature reserve activations.
The updated version of the T-11 included a change where the reserve ripcord handle was changed to a single pin pull, and the geometry of the reserve handle was altered to eliminate the risk of windblast.
However, these tests were carried out more than a year before Erdody was seriously injured in May 2022.
Erdody’s Incident and Response
According to Erdody’s lawsuit, he was sucked out of an aircraft 1,250 feet over Fort Bragg when his T-11 reserve parachute deployed and opened violently and unexpectedly inside the aircraft.
He was then ripped from the aircraft, partially severing his arm against the door frame, and blacked out as he fell to the earth.
Erdody regained consciousness and found himself tangled in tree limbs, where he cut himself free from his parachute cords and stumbled into a nearby clearing for helicopter evac.
The military has known about the issues with the T-11 parachute design for years and has taken steps to address them.
However, with injuries and fatalities still occurring, it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be enough to eliminate the risk entirely.