Parachuting? An act of war these days - A SERIOUS THREAD!!!!

No fighting, shouting and mindless abuse please chaps.

I've tried to discuss this with Paras in the past, and it quickly degenerates into a "hats, what would you know about it?" sort of thing.

It's a serious question though. In what circumstances could we forsee a parachute drop as an act of war these days?

It made sense in WW2 when we didn't have helicopters and TALO, and I can see the idea of SF, Pathfinders etc dropping in by 'chute, but a mass para drop?

When I was on PURPLE STAR, the rules kept getting adjusted so the enemy couldn't fire on the DZ's for about 12 hours with anything bigger than 9mm, to give the drop time to take place. Not a hugely realistic scenario I suggest.

There was talk of faster and faster 'chutes, so you spent less time in the air. Then there was a suggestion that if those extra couple of seconds was so critical to the survivability of your forces, then you were dropping in the wrong place.

In a modern war, are we wasting precious resource on para training (the actual parachuting bit) when we might be better using the cash for airmobility training?

I'm not suggesting the Paras be disbanded as such, but will there be a need for airborne infantry that wouldn't be better served by airmobile infantry, trained to the same high standards of fitness etc.

I suspect this will end very quickly in a slagging match, but I do hope not.
The idea of an Airborne force is to get to a certain location by quicker means, so the answer might well be..."You never know".....
C130 has speed and range that helis lack. A much greater combat force can be carried by C130s than helis as we simply do not have a sufficient quantity of large helis. These are the main reason the British Army retains the paratrooper option.

With C17 (the RAF has four) the reach is global. In 1998 the spams sent a battalion 14,314km in eight C17s. The longest paratrooper airdrop in history. Embarkation to re-org in less than a day.
Was that the test flight to the Ukraine from Bragg?

If it was the men were in shite state on the drop. Ok they did it but most were chin strapped on the way out. Did the Spams not try using "melonin"? (spelling) the anti jet lag pill for the flight as they knew the troops would suffer.
I think the British Army would be foolish to dispose of its Airborne capability. Firstly they don't possess enough helicopters to land a significant force, secondly the SPAMS tried it in Vietnam and it didn't work and lastly we need the capability to insert a battalion sized group of trained nasties to sieze the initiative, sieze / destroy stategic sites and personalities etc and possibly act in support of SF or others cut off from main force support (I was thinking of Sierra Leonne when certain members of the army were unwilling guests of some scum bags called the West side Boys, I know an airborne drop wasn't used that time but feel pretty sure it was considered as an option)
Even i believe it would be foolish to dispense with such a capability - even if it isn't used it gives us more flexibility and keeps an enemy guessing as to whether we'll go for the "deep" operation, thus forcing him to tie down forces in rear areas. This principle was used by the US Marines in the Gulf War first time round, keeping large numbers of Iraqi troops tied down along the coast of Kuwait and anything that can help dislocate the enemy should not be discounted.
In addition to this, if they are actually used...devastation. If a large scale drop is required then the sh!t has really hit the fan, so the large casualty figures the drop will incur would likely be repeated amongst conventional forces anyway - in which case the lesson from all case studies would be, no matter how much the landing force suffer they create absolute havoc in an enemy's rear area.


The Parachute threat is a capability that our potential ememies must take into acount, no parachute capability = no need for the enemy to worry about that particular threat, this would be a major limitation on tactical options. Also, the very act of parachuting gets the soldier used to fear and controlling fear nothwithstanding the esperit d corps this also generates, what other form of selection can bring this genuine fear? Despite the real risk of injury the soldier will jump, this is the same sort of mentality you need in the assault. Helicopoters have severe range limitations too which means that if you have a true emergency, you can get troops on the ground by parachute quickly providing its not a weekend as the RAF wil be stood down.
Definitely we should keep this option open. It may not get used much but as posters before have mentioned it keeps the en guessing, gives us greater range than using just SH or AAC helos, allows us to make good use of the RAF C130/C17 fleet in direct support of ground fighting as well as JHC, and in some particular scenarios it just might happen to be the option of choice.

I'd say considering the RAF are going to have C130s and C17s anyway for their airlifting role, and considering the Army is going to have a force of Airborne Infantry as you put it (even if just for helo ops), then whats the harm in letting the two come together and practice parachuting operations, even if it is seldom used? I bet keeping Paras current in jumping is far from the biggest expenditure in either the RAF or Army budgets - and keeping in mind the options it keeps open for us, its time, money and effort well spent.

The Paras and Airborne Forces in 16 AA Bde have a parachuting role even if they are more commonly used in the helicopter-mobile role. Equally the RMs and Commando Forces in 3 Cdo Bde have a seaborne-amphibious role even if they usually get dropped off by junglie Sea Kings. Taking the parachuting away from the Paras would be akin to taking the landing craft from the Marines - limits our choices and dents morale bigtime too (parachuting being a major factor in wanting to become a Para and the reason the regiment was formed in the first place).

Now I'm all for having realistic FTX's, but what harm is para training doing our Army?

Getting back to the original question. Airborne insertion could be used in lots of scenarios, just because they havent happened for donkeys years doesnt mean they wont happen again. I think the days of an Arnhem/Rhine crossing/D Day style operation are gone (but who knows for sure?). If however, you look at some of the other Airborne operations during WW2, such as Bruneval, Eban Emael (and a lot of the early German ops), the attempt to kill/capture Tito, there is a lot of scope today for such for company/BN raids.
Another op could be a 'light scales' type overhead assault onto an airfield, HQ or even a head of government!. The British Army has lost enough of its teeth over the last few decades, losing its Paratroop capability would be like having its canines ripped out!. I've often heard people say 'its what happens on the ground that counts', too f*ckin right it is. I'm sure if we could have done without Airborne forces, the last two governments would have gleefully included them in drastic cutback in our infantry arm.
Another way of looking at it is, 'what if' we'd done an airborne insertion in operations since 1956 (the last op jump). If we'd had C17's in 1982 we could have reinforced the RM in Port Stanley. We could have put a BN into Pristina (?) airfield, beating the Russian Para road element (apparently this option was seen as 'too aggressive'). Anyone else think of any other applications over the last 50 years or so?
People over-egg the counter-para threat; how many countries that we are currently fighting, or are likely to fight, have a sufficiently effective AD system to protect all of their vulnerable points? (We certainly don't.....!) As an example, Para Ops could have been used half a dozen times on Telic1, without any real risk to a/c or LPBG.

The very image of a large para drop is a powerful poltical weapon in its own right, and today's media would go into a frenzy with that particular footage.

Whilst I'm convinced the Para role still has a place in the modern Army - not least because of the fighting ethos - I find it hard to believe an operation will ever be mounted again by UK Plc. I think we are just too short of aviation assets, too slow in our planning cycle, and too risk-averse at the higher command and political levels.
Arbogrunt raises some interesting points (as do you all, thanks for constructive input)

Apart from Britain, has anyone tried a combat parachute drop since WW2? Did the Israelis use Paras at Entebbe?

How did it go (in terms of a technical drop)?

I realise that heavy lift A/C such as c 130 and C 17 have much better range than, say, CHINOOK.

However, when are we going to be operating outside the range of CHINOOK?

I come back to the TALO option for longer range ops.

Is it really worth all the extra effort to maintain a force that we haven't used in a parachute role for 50 years?

I understand the need for morale & unit cohesion, but is it a luxury that could be gained in other ways?

I'm looking for both sides of the argument here. Pro parachute and anti-parachute, and really I guess I would like to come to a conclusion that says "Parachuting is worth it because it costs "X" and the benefit is "X+1", or not.

Incidentally, I don't agree with the comparison of parachute & landing craft that Gook made. LC have been used (in the Falklands for example) and are a viable method of getting heavy kit ashore. Any parachute insertion that required support beyond light inf scales would surely need heli insertion of artillery, and if you can do that with helis, why not drop the troops that way as well?

The added benefit is that if a heli dropped them off, then almost certainly, a heli can pick them up again. There is no such luxury with a parachute drop.
Clearly the ability to put significant numbers of troops on the ground in a short period of time (deep) behind enemy lines is a huge tactical advantage but it depends on having the element of suprise, sufficient firepower to defeat the enemy and secure drop zones for re-supply. Where these elements are lacking history teaches us it soon degenerates into a cluster. For example during the German invasion of Crete in 1941 German paratroopers lacked the element of suprise (compromised signals) and the British inflicted approx 6500 casulaties upon them, half of which occurred on the first day. The Germans lost 350 aircraft, half of which were Junkers 52 transport planes. Hitler responded by saying "the days of parachute troops are over". During Op Market Garden the British airborne troops who landed at Arnhem might have had suprise but lacked sufficient firepower to defeat the enemy (panzer division) and secure drop zones for re-supply. Of the 10,000 that landed less than 10% got out. The last combat drop that I'm aware of took place during the Iraq War when the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Div dropped into northern Iraq to support of the Kurdish fighters there. The night drop went OK and they laid low until day-break whereupon they found themselves friendly Kurdish fighters.
Paratroopers are only LIGHT INFANTRY and are limited in their role! So there is no need for Paratroopers anymore,except to specialise and do the same work as the Special Forces.Paratroopers are not special forces.
3 light guns + ammo and 1 pinzgauar + cp landrover are included on the LPBG, extra gun ammunition is wedged with mortar ammunition. It has been practised in the past that all up weights include a 81 double greenie or 105mm shell or cart norm per jumper, this has been simulated in the past.

2 guns are piggy backed, gun pinz piggy backed 2 platforms per stretch C 130

Driver/layer on board when dropping 8O

That makes the "Parachute Light Infantry" a little heavier........


I think that PARA as a fighting force today are like those two brown things on your chest - do no harm and - you never know - they might come in useful
Harry_Webster said:
3 light guns + ammo and 1 pinzgauar + cp landrover are included on the LPBG, extra gun ammunition is wedged with mortar ammunition. It has been practised in the past that all up weights include a 81 double greenie or 105mm shell or cart norm per jumper, this has been simulated in the past.

2 guns are piggy backed, gun pinz piggy backed 2 platforms per stretch C 130

Driver/layer on board when dropping 8O

That makes the "Parachute Light Infantry" a little heavier........
'Practiced', 'simulated', and 'in the past' are key words.

How long does it take to set that up and put it all in action?

Similar threads

Latest Threads