New virtual jump simulator improves paratrooper readiness at MacDill

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin
  • Special Operations Forces Command Central Public Affairs

The new Parachute Simulator 7 is one more reason why Special Operations Forces Command Central remains at the “Tip of the Spear.”

The Systems Technology, Inc. team came to MacDill Air Force Base to install the new PARASIM 7 system at the Joint Parachute Rigger facility, Feb. 19, and incorporated military personnel training on the system.

The PARASIM 7 recreates the experience of a real parachute jump from the head-mounted 3D virtual reality display to the suspension harness that detects jumper inputs. The physics-based parachute simulation technology recreates the conditions of a live jump using real-world scenes, malfunctions, wind profiles, various weather conditions and a full library of terrain types.

“The simulator will allow us to train the MacDill paratroopers in a realistic virtual environment that accurately reflects the areas and terrain they will jump in,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shane Walthers, a SOCCENT parachute rigger noncommissioned officer in charge. “When used in conjunction with the mandatory refresher training, the simulator is extremely useful in giving jumpers a realistic view of where they will be jumping and what they will see while under canopy.”

Simulator training gives jumpers the opportunity to practice and refine their canopy control techniques in a safe virtual environment. Mistakes can be made and corrections can be learned before an actual jump where those same mistakes could have catastrophic consequences.

STI continues to develop and enhance the PARASIM in response to the needs of the airborne community. Over 330 systems have been sold worldwide since the first PARASIM system was created 28 years ago, but there is only one PARASIM 7.

“The new PARASIM 7 network system that was just installed for SOCCENT is the first of its kind in the world!” said Cecy Pelz, a senior contracts administrator with STI. “It comes as no surprise that SOCCENT, who is often positioned at the tip of the spear, is the first to adopt the most advanced parachute training system.”

The overall purpose of the PARASIM is to train canopy control, flight pattern optimization, emergency procedure, equipment familiarization and group operations in a classroom setting under controlled, repeatable conditions.

Highly trained SOCCENT instructors, encompassed with extensive military jump skills, use PARASIM as a tool to translate their wealth of experience and skills. This allows paratroopers to encounter a variety of situations first-hand and learn how to respond appropriately.

Upgrading to PARASIM 7 will prepare paratroopers for future airborne operations by combining the core foundation of its dynamics and training features with the graphics power of Virtual Battlespace 3.

VBS3 is a flagship of the U.S. Army’s Games for Training program, making it key to scenario training, airborne operations, mission rehearsal and more.

With PARASIM 7, U.S. Special Operations Forces can plan and conduct mission rehearsals globally, under any weather conditions – day or night. With multiple canopies and training malfunctions included, it makes equipment transition and emergency procedures training accessible, safe and effective.

“Naval Special Warfare Command already had a blanket purchase agreement with PARASIM, and I was able to convince Special Operations Command, Joint Communications Support Element and SOCCENT to invest in the latest and greatest technology available,” said Maj. Juan Salas, SOCCENT headquarters commandant.

“PARASIM 7 will help paratroopers jump virtually in Drop Zone Zarqa, Jordan as we prepare for future training exercises that will be conducted there.”

PARASIM 7 has improved drop zone graphics giving jumpers a view that looks less video game-like. Paratroopers have the ability to manipulate inputs like wind data, aircraft track of flight and in-air release points.

Paratroopers can now use known historical weather data to simulate what they could realistically expect. The older version included a pre-packaged scenario that may or may not accurately reflect normal conditions on that particular drop zone.

“Upgrading our simulators is important because the MacDill simulators were some of the older ones within the Department of Defense,” said Sgt. Cassandre Casseus, a USSOCOM paratrooper. “While the older versions still provided useful training to jumpers, there were limitations that kept the training from being as realistic as possible. The upgrades provide a lot of variables to work with to make the training accurately reflect what jumpers should expect to see.”

PARASIM 7 features a new military free fall virtual platform that tracks jumper movement during the free fall portion of the scenario. This allows instructors to work with jumpers on their body positioning.

This feature harnesses the power of VBS3 making it compatible with Special Operations Forces planning, rehearsal and execution preparation scene databases. It provides jumpers the opportunity to correct movement patterns and body positioning that could cause issues during jumps.

This will play a significant role as the commands prepare to transition to the bottom of container deployment method for the RA-1 parachutes as jumpers will have to learn new body positions necessary to deploy their parachutes.