Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division found their two options for rucksacks either too small or too big. So the Army has created a new design that’s just right. And while they were at it, Army officials were able to lighten the load and make the rucks easier to access, without having to de-rig.
In March the Army will test the MOLLE-4000, a 4,000-cubic-inch ruck. Existing options are 3,000 cubic inches or 5,000 cubic inches. The Army hopes to begin sending production orders for the new Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment by Sept. 30, with production starting soon after, according to program manager Maj. Eric Mendoza.
“We listened to the field, listened to what soldiers had to say,” said John Yancey, deputy at the Soldier Systems Branch of the Capabilities, Development & Integration Directorate at Fort Benning, Georgia. “I think we’ve got it right.”
The new rucksack represents part of a broader update to jump gear. In the last few years the Army rolled out the T-11 parachute to replace the T-10 (mainly because a better chute was needed to accommodate additional weight of soldiers and gear), and the Modular Airborne Weapons Case to replace the bulkier M1950 weapons case. Both replaced models dating to the 1950s.
The new MOLLE differs from current rucksacks in that its main compartment faces upward, which allows soldiers to access its contents, even as they prepare to jump. With a parachute on their back and reserve over their chest, jumpers have their rucksacks harnessed to their front, hanging below the waist. The current, 5,000-cubic inch airborne standard is harnessed from the bottom with the opening hanging down. This makes it difficult to remove supplies before a jump.
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