The HALO / HAHO insertion capacity

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

Fundamental ability to contribute to the strategic dimension of the raiding assets, the connotation push tactics joint HALO / HAHO is the heritage of a few well-structured countries from a military point of view. Nationwide, the 9th regiment With Moschin it is the unit that expresses it, in cooperation with the other joint forces, already covering all the needs of the Defense.

The evolution of capacity must necessarily tend towards an increasingly specialized, elitist and selected niche of excellence concentrated in the single department that has cultivated its development and experience for years rather than towards an attempt to distribute, divide and, inevitably , flatten the capacity with the inevitable consequence of loss of effectiveness, efficiency and waste of resources.

In this article we will examine one of the characteristics and exclusive insertion techniques of the Army incursors who, on the national scene, are the only ones to have for some time developed, consolidated and determinedly protected a real military capability in this articulated and elitist sector. . We will illustrate the techniques, the procedures, some technological details and the equipment, also delving into some considerations that will highlight the difference between those who could, without great difficulty, training and expenses launch themselves from very high altitudes and be photographed in men attitudes as it falls above the highest clouds in the sky and who, on the other hand, it must institutionally maintain a real operational capacity in the sector. Finally, in the light of some trends that have not been too secretly reported to us, we will ask ourselves questions about the various attempts to arbitrarily enlarge this capacity with the serious risk of drastically reducing its effectiveness, invalidating its sustainability and exponentially multiplying costs and expenses in the face of the taxpayer and in defiance of the sacred principles of elimination of duplication and optimization of financial resources enshrined, as well as in the "White Paper", in all the defense planning and financial programming texts1.

Fasten your seat belts, therefore, because if the previous articles on special forces have aroused an unexpected and vibrant interest, at least judging by the number of views and appreciation expressed - and by the many heated replies and discussions - this risks becoming the leader!

A little bit of syntax

The term "insertion" was introduced relatively recently in the specific national literature2. Of clear Anglo-Saxon derivation (from "insertion") the term indicates the set of activities implemented in order to transport a unit of raiders from source source, which often coincides with the Advanced Operating Base, insertion point which, ordinarily, is in the relative vicinity of the target. This movement is generally carried out through "transporters", whether they are air, naval or land carriers who, as a rule, are not organic to the raiding units but support them for the conduct of Special Operations3.

From "Insertion point" the raiding units then proceed toinfiltration, understood as the movement carried out with one's own means, or on foot, up to the target area. The insertion is an extremely delicate phase of the Special Operations since, in the traditional scenarios war, involves the overcoming of the line of contact where the operational density of the enemy is more accentuated, especially as regards the detection, surveillance and reaction systems.

Starting from the Second World War, the aerial insertion has always represented a valid and consolidated opportunity for the advantages that the airplane offers in terms of intervention speed, transport capacity, autonomy, depth of penetration, range of action, relative discretion and avoidance of land defenses.

Among the operational hypotheses of the NATO FS during the Cold War, there was that of having to operate beyond the lines of the Warsaw Pact. For this activity, between the end of the 50s and the beginning of the 60s of the last century, the Green Berets began to develop HALO / HAHO penetration techniques, which allowed long penetrations into hostile airspace, without having to violate them. with large and slow (therefore very vulnerable) transport aircraft.

However, the first operational employment took place in 1969 in Indochina, when the CIA needed to “insert” SOG (Studies and Observations Group) operators, with HALO night launches, in hostile nations such as Laos and Cambodia. The drops had a high success rate, despite the dense vegetation and the fact that round multiple-slit parachutes were still employed.

In the following decade, wing-like sails appeared, capable of allowing real aero-navigation. We also switched to harnesses with both dorsal veils, in order to leave the front part free for equipment.

In consideration of the limited size of the raiding units - which operate from a minimum of 2 operators up to a maximum that, almost never, exceeds twenty individuals - the aircraft that can be used are many and also include civil aircraft, or commercial type, small in size which, in addition to having the shape, shape and livery typical of tourist aircraft, require short and poorly prepared landing strips4. Specifically, and in our case, we will talk aboutadvertisement from the moment the raiding team gets on the plane and until it exits the belly of the aircraft, and of infiltration from the moment the parachutes are opened and until the target area is reached (mixed air-terrestrial infiltration).

Regarding the acronym HALO / HAHO, although in the last 3 years a very extensive interpretation of this term has been deliberately, and equally perniciously, socialized, we will only refer to jumps from altitudes that exceed 13.000 feet (about 4.000 m. ) and which inevitably involve the use of oxygen equipment for both the paratroopers and the crew of the aircraft. The reason for this, once again, exclusive interpretation is that it launches from altitudes between 10.000 and 13.000 feet, to which the nickname "HALO / HAHO" has been boldly attributed.5, do not involve procedures essentially different for paratroopers from those carried out, always in free fall, from altitudes below 10.000 feet (called TCL) and do not present tactical-operational advantages of significant interest to justify an extensive use.

The technique

The acronym HALO / HAHO stands for High Altitude Low Opening / High Altitude High Opening and, in summary, it describes a particular technique and operational tactic (mind you, operational and NO aviolancistica) that allows you to launch in free fall from very high altitudes (up to 10.000 meters ... and even a little further, if necessary) to open the parachute at low altitude (HALO) and reach the goal, that is to open the parachute as soon as you exit from the aircraft at very high altitudes (HAHO) to navigate under sail for several kilometers6 and land in areas at a considerable distance from the point of exit from the aircraft.

We wanted to emphasize that it is a technical and operational tactic and NO aviation science because the aviation skills employed in the HALO / HAHO activity do not differ from those acquired during the specific training for the Free Fall Technique (TCL). Furthermore, the parachutes used are used within the envelope curve underlying their homologation and therefore, the personnel does not require specific aviation training further than that already received while they need a advanced tactical training.

Just to give a more accessible, banal but equally pragmatic example, if I wanted to learn how to drive on ice with a vehicle approved for road circulation, I would not have to go back to get a license from the Civil Motorization and I would not need qualifications from the same. On the contrary, I would turn to some private school that will teach me the maneuvers to be performed safely to master the vehicle on solid state water and that will teach me to use a vehicle, already approved for the road network and which I am already qualified to to drive, at the limit of its technical performance.

To jump from these altitudes, personnel must necessarily breathe oxygen. Starting from the maximum altitude of 13.000 feet (approximately 4.000 meters)7, in fact, the use of oxygen is mandatory both for the flight crew and for the personnel who must be launched in order to allow the right oxygenation to the human body and avoid "decompression sickness" that could arise if the desired altitude was reached in a short time. Precisely to avoid this last hypothesis when the "speed of climb" and the altitudes are significant, a pre-oxygenation lasting about half an hour is necessary to de-saturate the body tissues from nitrogen, an inert gas present in the air and responsible of any embolisms.

Tactical operational motivations of the HALO / HAHO advert

The HALO / HAHO tactical technique exploits the aircraft's ability to fly at high altitudes (7.000-10.000 m.) Thus avoiding the very low and low range anti-aircraft systems, all MANPADS (even the latest generation ones that reach 4500 m. altitude) as well as enemy weapons of small and medium caliber whose concentration is highest near the line of contact.

From this first consideration it is clear, even to the less attentive reader, why the launches with the Free Fall Technique from altitudes not exceeding 4000 meters they do not offer significant tactical advantages and, on the contrary, expose the aircraft to the deadly anti-aircraft weapons supplied to individual infantrymen on the battlefield (Manpads) much more than in the case of restricted launches that can take place from altitudes not exceeding 300 meters and which allow the aircraft to carry out a "grazing" and "tactical" flight, escaping the radar and complicating the life of those who use anti-aircraft weapons for very low altitudes.

In scenarios war, depending on the conquered air superiority, the aircraft can enter enemy territory in relative safety or, in any case, can approach the contact line without crossing it and release the operators who, navigating under the wing, will be able to overcome the enemy lines to land in the depth of the field of opponent battle. Also consider the maneuverability and efficiency of the modern airfoil parachutes used for these air drops.8, the landing areas can be considerably distant from the exit point of the aircraft and also considerably restricted (a 50x50 meter clearing may be more than enough).

In asymmetric operations, when one of the parties has dominion over the air, the technique allows for the preservation of discretion and confidentiality. In Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, the insurgents had developed a network of early warning which made it possible to inform potential targets from the moment of take-off, from the various bases, of the rotary wing assets. The HAHO / HALO insertion was therefore used to guarantee the surprise and maximum secrecy of the activity since the take-off of fixed-wing assets could take place from very distant bases to the objectives9 and, considering the range and the flight altitude of the aircraft, it did not allow the insurgents to activate the alarm procedures.

Finally, in ultra-confidential and clandestine operations, the paratroopers' release altitude (8.000-11.000 meters) allows the aircraft to use a normal commercial or airliner route. The airplane must therefore be identified as such, have a flight plan consistent with its size and follow a series of precautions that do not raise doubts to the air traffic controllers who follow it. Another reason that makes us understand better why the capacity must be joint and it cannot be represented only by the 4 thugs who, with rambish attitudes, are photographed with the oxygen masks worn.

The tactic - obviously employed at night and, possibly, with skies covered by clouds - therefore allows safe, discreet, or even clandestine insertions, preserving the team of raiders who, necessarily and above all in this phase of the operation, are in a particularly delicate and sensitive moment. On the other hand, these procedures require a thorough, detailed, exhausting and particular training of the personnel who must also be equipped with special materials and equipment suitable to guarantee, before carrying out the task, the survival of operators in lack of oxygen, at atmospheric pressures. very low and at very low temperatures.

We will never stop emphasizing, therefore, that the precondition for the operational use of this type of tactical technique is the reasonable certainty that it does not constitute a problem for the groups and teams who must perform it and conduct it which, therefore, must be absolutely prepared and trained and fully equipped and equipped to perform it with the most natural ease. The insertion, in fact, is only one of the first phases of the maneuver and, if one puts oneself in critical conditions from the beginning of the special operation, the probabilities of achieving the objective, which by its nature is strategic and represents the goal last of the activity that has been planned, they decrease drastically up to zero.

From now on, therefore, we will utter the first lapidary postulate: if you want to express such an ability, it is essential to ensure the preparation and training of the staff and of all branches joint that contribute to the "capacity" itself, its constant training, repeated frequently throughout the year and in various environmental conditions, the availability of aircraft assets, qualified crews and all equipment and materials in perfect state of maintenance and the continuous joint coordination and integration, elements that are indispensabili to ensure this capability.

This inter-force connotation was further underlined by the recent joint-force exercise COMAO 22-01, conducted under the direction of the Aerospace Forces Command, in which, alongside the HALO / HAHO activity conducted by the 9th regiment With Moschin, have operated F-35A aircraft in business of Suppression of Enemy Air Defense, predator MQ-9 who played Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), AV-8B Harrier II Plus of the Navy and a Gulfstream G-555 CAEW with command and control functions, to mention only part of the joint forces involved and necessary for this type of operations.

The essential materials and equipment.

All materials and equipment used to guarantee capacity are "special", in the sense that, while performing functions that may seem trivial or obvious, they must be suitable and approved to withstand extreme conditions for the entire duration of the activity . The criticalities are not only represented by the altitude, and therefore by the lack of oxygen and by the low pressure, but above all by the temperatures that can even exceed -60 ° C. Without needing to be engineers or physicists of matter, it is well known that at those temperatures the most common materials, and especially the polymeric ones used abundantly in modern military equipment, have long since exceeded the ductile / brittle transition temperature and therefore tend to break. with great ease, also risking to injure the operators or, much more simply, to be compromised in their functionality. The electronic devices do not respond, the liquid crystals freeze, the batteries are immediately discharged, the computer screens break, the lubricants freeze, preventing the functioning of any mechanical device and, if you survive the dangerous launch, you risk reaching the ground and find oneself without the possibility of communicating, of orienting oneself, of moving… and the mission must be aborted! Indeed, worse! A risky operation must be launched search and rescue to try to save the life of those who instead would have had to fatally complicate it for the opponent! It is therefore not enough to have a portable GPS but it must work at -60 ° C and the same goes for satellite radios and for all the other materials we will talk about. The costs, therefore, rise exponentially: if a normal militarized computer costs 3.000 ... one guaranteed to withstand those temperatures costs 10 times as much!

Let's now quickly review the essential equipment:

  • The parachute complex: first of the essential equipment. It must be approved for the relative launch and opening altitudes and for the temperatures of use and the harness must have the ability to support the individual oxygen containers, the backpack, the weapons, and the navigation instruments. The wing must guarantee a favorable efficiency (preferably over 4: 1) as well as support weights that can approach 200 kg. The barometric safety device must also be approved for the relative heights, pressures and temperatures and must be waterproof 10, and these details not only increase the purchase costs but also the maintenance costs of the various parachute complexes. The rescue glider must have similar characteristics to the main one because in the unfortunate case of activation of the secondary glider the paratrooper must in any case be able to maneuver and reach a safe place for landing (let's imagine a launch on the vertical sea or a mountainous area followed by a long navigation under the sail to reach the coast or the clearing that allows the landing; if one of the paratroopers activates the emergency, he must still be able to follow a route similar to the one that had been planned with the main parachute). These parachute complexes have a cost of around € 27.000 each and must be regularly maintained and overhauled at specific intervals.

  • collective and individual masks and oxygen containers. As we have already anticipated, above 4.000 m. the use of oxygen is essential. Each skydiver must be equipped with a mask capable of delivering a higher percentage of oxygen the higher the altitude. The mask of each paratrooper during, or on the premise of the flight, is connected to a collective container by means of "whips" of adequate length. A few minutes before exiting the plane, the whip that connects the mask to the collective container is disconnected and the mask is connected to the individual container (small cylinder with a capacity of 2 liters that each paratrooper has attached to his harness) in order to breathe during the launch. All these equipment have extremely high costs and must all be approved in order to be loaded on board the aircraft and maintained at the manufacturers. To provide an order of ideas, the collective containers (for a maximum of 8-10 pax) can cost € 100.000 each, the individual ones around € 12.000 each and a mask around € 7-8.000 each. Each maintenance (often annual) exceeds € 2.000.

  • The helmets. They must protect from the cold, allow the housing of the mask and the support to the night vision googles that each operator uses. They must be of low weight to avoid excessive stresses on the paratrooper's neck and contain communication headsets that allow pairing with the individual radio used. They must also be equipped with couplings and interfaces compatible with the aeronautical ones, which also allow intra-aircraft communications with the aircraft crew. Also for this type of equipment the cost is around € 3.000-6.000 per piece depending on the version chosen.

  • The thermal-tactical clothing. The clothing must allow it to withstand very low temperatures for long periods, must be not bulky and stowable at the end of the jump, must not hinder the movements of the skydiver and must be resistant to tearing and abrasions. Gloves and overshoes are also of fundamental importance and can make the difference between an operator who can continue his mission and one who must be exfiltrated for the principles of freezing at the extremities. For specific clothing, the costs are around € 1.000 per operator.

  • The navigation tools. At a minimum, each operator must be equipped with a navigation computer (approximately € 3.000 each), an aeronautical compass (approximately € 1.000 each) and various assembly and support kits (€ 500). We must also add the various software that allow and facilitate navigation planning and GPS signal repeaters (about € 17.000) that allow you to receive the signal even inside the cockpit of the aircraft.

  • Il tactical beacon. Satellite position marker that every operator must have. In case of emergency, in fact, you need to know where the unfortunate paratrooper is in order to be able to rescue him in time. The cost of this device varies but we would not be wrong if we estimated it at around € 6.000-8.000 each.

  • The communications equipment hands-free. Each operator must also have equipment that allows him to communicate intra-team during the flight and once on the ground. The devices must therefore withstand extreme conditions and solutions must be used that limit the possibility of being identified by the adversary electronic warfare to a minimum. In recent years, systems have developed that allow you to create a tactical cloud of suitable dimensions that allows wi-fi communication between all the elements that are inside. This technique is particularly used during the phases of flight and under sail. Even for these devices, without going into details, which are very sensitive, we can estimate costs of around € 6.000 per operator.

  • The charging and maintenance equipment. If you want to have a serious operational capacity, you must also have the oxygen refill systems and routine maintenance of these systems "on your own" otherwise, the company that provides the refill would be the first to know the activity carried out by the department and it could, with a few informative expedients, provide a lot of data to the “interested parties” about the activity carried out and the state of preparation of the units that carry it out. These recharging systems, in addition to requiring specialized personnel for their use, have a cost that can easily exceed € 200.000 - € 300.000 for all their essential components as well as being subjected, too, to periodic checks and maintenance that make them rise significantly. operating costs.

In addition to the materials and equipment, the personnel carrying out this activity must always be physically at the maximum of their abilities and must undergo specific medical checks. In particular, both for a physiological and training factor and safety it is recommended that every year the operators do a check and a training in hypobaric chamber both to revive awareness of the symptoms of hypoxia and to repeat the procedures to be undertaken if this disease occurs in flight. Even this type of activity can only be niche due to the underlying costs and the extremely limited availability of aviation physiopathology facilities available in the area.

A quick and crude cost estimate

Just to provide an order of magnitude, if we wanted to guarantee each operator the state of the art of the equipment to ensure HALO / HAHO capacity, a reasonable estimate of the initial costs could be appreciated at around € 100.000 per operator. If we were to add the maintenance and maintenance costs per number, to the figure provided we would have to add about € 15.000 per operator per year, taking into account that after an honorable life of 15-20 years the systems must be replaced.

So, just to keep it simple, for 10 operators I have to spend about 1 million euros on equipment and 150.000 euros per year for various maintenance and maintenance by number.

To these costs are added those of the qualification course (which for 10 pax could have an amount of about € 150.000 taking into account the rent of the aircraft, recharges, the use of instructors, wear of materials, etc ...) and those of maintaining operations.

So far we have only quantified the economic costs. Those relating to the sorties of aircraft of the Air Force, true bottleneck of the problem, we will see them later.

But let's remember that having 10 qualified operators means expressing an operational capacity of 3 operators!

Constraints and limits of capacity

Perhaps not everyone knows that, for a launch with equipment11 Air Force aircraft cannot carry more than twenty paratroopers on the C-130J and more than a dozen on the C-27J. Qualified crews are currently limited for each flight line. The result is a very limited capacity for maintaining operations and for training courses. Even if the latter may have started with civil aircraft, they cannot in fact ignore, in the final stages of the course, the tactical assets of the Air Force.

Without giving the lottery numbers, we understand that, in the last 2 years, in the face of the limited requests for HALO / HAHO sorties carried out by the 9th regiment only Collar Moschin12, less than half have been guaranteed due to endemic unavailability of assets and qualified crews by the Air Force. Analyzing even this factor alone, that is the inability of the Air Force to satisfy only the requests of the 9th regiment, a hypothesis of expansion of the capacity to other units would obviously be excluded a priori and not even taken into consideration.

Still dealing with minimum requirements that constrain the expression of ability, the essential training of operators cannot be an exception. We are in fact referring to a groups and teams who, without warning and "with ease and safety", must be able to plan, organize and prepare a very high altitude launch, interface with the Air Force crews to define the details of the launch, use sophisticated equipment, launch at night from an airplane that flies at 10.000 meters of altitude carrying with it all the materials, weapons and equipment necessary for the mission, immediately open the parachute, rejoin the air with open sails and, perhaps, in non-optimal weather conditions, carry out a long navigation of 30 -45 km of groups and teams (which involves a very short distance between one operator and another in conditions of poor visibility and high probability of collisions), land together in the same restricted landing area, rejoin the ground making all traces disappear and continue the mission in enemy territory . At a minimum, to maintain only the aviation skills, in addition to 10 HALO / HAHO launches per year, the staff will have to perform at least thirty with the Free Fall Technique (from altitudes below 4000 m.) and at least one annual training in a free fall simulator. These quantifications were made by taking as an example the programs to maintain the operations of the units that express a consolidated capacity in the sector such as some raiding departments of the USA, France (1st RPIMA, and 13th RDP), Australia (AUS SAS) and Great Britain (22nd SAS).

The national HAHO / HAHO insertion capacity

The high-altitude aerial insertion capacity is one of the requirements that, within the Army, only the "raiders" department - in line with its joint-force mission and with the exclusive tasks assigned to the sole Tier 1 - is able to express. This ability constitutes a real peculiarity of the 9th regiment With Moschin which, in this context, represents the only and exclusive Italian department able to supply it from an operational point of view and in possession of the know how necessary to ensure specific training for the personnel of the Armed Force already in possession of the Army Incursor patent13. The department also provides, in complete autonomy, to support with technically trained personnel the execution of the procedures for the qualification of the Air Force crews and aircraft to fly and launch from high altitude.

The 9th regiment has always represented the only point of contact and reference, also at joint level, with the joint or similar foreign training units or centers for the exchange of experiences or the carrying out of courses in the specific sector.

Finally, the 9th regiment integrates and completes the capacity also through the experiences gained in the use of Joint Precision Aerial Delivery Systems14. Several raiders have in fact participated in the experimentation and use campaign of the systems in Afghanistan (years 2007-2010) and have also participated in specific training at the Yuma Proving Ground dell 'U.S. Army in Arizona (attached photos).

The department therefore covers every need connected to the specific tactic by having all the professional skills necessary for the various profiles of possible operations, both special and conventional. In addition to all types of Special Operations, which include NATO SOF activities (Direct Actions, Special Reconnaissance and Military Assistance) and the 4 national missions assigned to the Tier 115 that the 9th is able to conduct by exploiting the HALO / HAHO capacity, the department also possesses the professional skills to support and contribute to a very wide range of conventional operations. Many of the raiders are in fact qualified as Commander of the Driving Patrol and, if the activity was carried out to facilitate an airborne operation, they would be able to identify, recognize and approve the various necessary launch zones, contribute to the information update of the area. as well as, eventually, rejoining the first nuclei of the Advanced Force16 and guide them to their respective areas as area connoisseurs.

Numerous raiders are also qualified Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) and can therefore request fire from the available platforms and guide it by contributing to the maneuver (specifically to the concentration of the fire) and to the neutralization of remunerative targets on the premise and during the performance of any conventional operation as well as helping to coordinate and assist traffic airplane. Almost pleonastic to point out that the aliquots of raiders can conduct direct actions by attacking, even in mode stand-off, the paying targets that should be neutralized in support of conventional units by exploiting every typical and peculiar ability that the multifaceted raider training confers17.

Being qualified for the use of closed-cycle underwater breathing apparatus (ARO) and having a consolidated ability also in the marine environment both on the surface and underwater, the teams of the 9th could facilitate amphibious operations by exploiting the peculiar discreet insertion system. Furthermore, in the unfortunate case the department does not have the necessary professionalism, this could still be aggregated to the groups and teams of raiders and inserted with the same technique by having the 9th of operators authorized to launch in tandem HALO / HAHO. The well-established experience of high-altitude air-launching completes the capacity, also transporting the assault dogs (K-9).

Training and maintenance.

At the national level, the training to obtain the qualification to carry out high altitude air raids is also concentrated at the 9th regiment With Moschin who plans, organizes and conducts, in complete autonomy, the basic qualification courses and for Assistant Launch Director with Oxygen procedures (ADLO). The 9th regiment is also the body that certifies and carries out the aviation activity with oxygen self-contained breathing apparatus for high-altitude launches and the incursor personnel who obtain the qualification can use the specific qualification established in 1991. The associated badge bears the diction "badge for raider qualified for high altitude operational launches with the use of oxygen equipment”Underlining, further, that the qualification is intimately connected, and inseparable, from the Army incursor's patent and, with the expression“ operational launches ”, the tactical and not purely avi-law aspect of the procedures is highlighted.

The 9th regiment, in addition to being, to date, the only body that can guarantee the know how through the instructor staff and the consolidated experience gained in decades of high altitude flying, it is also the only institution that has the very expensive materials, equipment and instruments necessary to conduct the activity. At a national level, therefore, the With Moschin is already able to meet all the needs of Defense in the specific sector by carrying out, for countless decades, joint and armed forces exercises both independently and in support of all operational units, special or conventional, which may need this competition.

Ability extension hypothesis:

As already mentioned in our previous article, there are proven attempts, originating above all from below, to enlarge "the skill”To perform high-altitude jumps to other departments. The term "ability" was chosen deliberately and wisely as the possible aforementioned enlargement would not involve, in our opinion, any capacitive growth by the Defense, even though it involves a considerable outlay of economic, material and human resources. So let's see, below, what are the quantities involved.

For this hypothesis we used the following criteria:

  • in order to express the operational capacity of one unit you must have at least:

  • 3 units enabled and ready (one is unavailable, one is engaged in other activities, one is on stand-by to be used);

  • equipment for 2,5 units (part of the equipment is in constant maintenance, part is used for training and a portion must always be on stand-by for operational use);

  • an average of 10 HALO HAHO launches / operator / year in addition to courses for the training of new operators and a minimum of 30 TCL launches / year per licensed operator;

  • for the calculations it was estimated a HALO / HAHO take-off of 15 pax on average and a TCL take-off of 40 pax on average (assuming therefore the use of military aircraft).

Parachute Brigade. Unit of use: the platoon: at least 3 enabled platoons (total about 100 pax including the Assistant Launch Directors with Oxygen procedures) to express the HALO / HAHO ability limited to 1 Platoon. Materials and equipment for at least 75 pax.

  • To achieve the skill (year X to year X + 5):

  • Time required: 5 years, enabling about 20 pax per year18;

  • resources about € 9,5 million (purchase of equipment (€ 7,5 million), initial course (€ 1,5 million) and maintenance for those who have already completed the course (€ 0,5 million))

  • launches and take-offs: on average 45 sorties / year of the HALO / HAHO type + on average 50 sorties / year TCL19;

  • to keep the skill from year X + 5:

  • resources about 2 M € / year (equipment revision, number maintenance, initial course to replace the personnel who progressively leave the operational component, etc ...)

  • launches and take-offs: on average 66 sorties / year of the HALO / HAHO type + 75 sorties / year TCL

4th "Monte Cervino" parachute alpine regiment Employment unit: the platoon; at least 3 enabled platoons (total about 100 pax including the Assistant Launch Directors with Oxygen procedures) to express the HALO / HAHO ability limited to 1 Platoon. Materials and equipment needed for at least 75 pax.

  • To achieve the skill (year X to year X + 5):

  • Time required: 5 years, enabling about 20 pax per year;

  • resources about € 9,5 million (purchase of equipment (€ 7,5 million), initial course (€ 1,5 million) and maintenance for those who have already completed the course (€ 0,5 million))

  • launches and take-offs: on average 45 sorties / year of the HALO / HAHO type + on average 50 sorties / year TCL;

  • to keep the skill from year X + 5:

  • resources about 2 M € / year (equipment revision, number maintenance, initial course to replace the personnel who progressively leave the operational component, etc ...)

  • launches and take-offs: on average 66 sorties / year of the HALO / HAHO type + 75 sorties / year TCL

185th Reconnaissance and Objective Acquisition Regiment. Employment unit: the operational detachment of purchasers; at least 3 operational detachments authorized purchasers (total about 30 pax including the Assistant Launch Directors with Oxygen procedures) to express the HALO / HAHO ability limited to 1 purchaser operating detachment. Materials and equipment for at least 20 pax.

  • To achieve the skill (year X to year X + 3):

  • Time required: 3 years, enabling about 10 pax per year;

  • resources approximately € 3,75 million (purchase of equipment (€ 3 million), initial course (€ 0,45 million) and maintenance for those who have already completed the course (€ 0,3 million))

  • launches and take-offs: on average 20 sorties / year of the HALO / HAHO type + on average 15 sorties / year TCL;

  • to keep the skill from year X + 3:

  • resources about 0,55 M € / year (equipment revision, number maintenance, initial course to replace the personnel who progressively leave the operational component, etc ...)

  • launches and take-offs: on average 20 sorties / year of the HALO / HAHO type + 25 sorties / year TCL

From this simple and approximate theoretical exercise of broadening the skill, since there is none operational requirement expressed by the Defense, one immediately realizes that this theory, in addition to clashing with the non-existence of a real need, inevitably collides with the reality of exponential costs but above all with the impossibility, by the Air Force, to sustain such effort.

If the Air Force also doubled (in terms of aircraft and qualified crews) its air transport capacity for HALO / HAHO launches would be able to satisfy, barely, the only current needs of the 9th regiment.

Taking into account that this development program is not included in the Defense priorities20 what sense would it be to enable operators from other departments without increasing the capacity of the Air Force tenfold in the sector?

Any expansion to other departments would not produce any increase in capacity, on the contrary, it would erode training slot to those who, on the other hand, have to express that capacity as an institutional task.

In a nutshell, the HALO / HAHO insertion capacity contributes significantly to "Strategic dimension" of the "raiders" structure of the Army which, through the aforementioned procedures, can be projected with minimum notice, short times, significant penetration and at a very great distance, preserving, if required, the clandestine, hidden and / or confidential nature of the operation for the execution of the peculiar, sensitive and exclusive tasks recently reaffirmed by the Chief of Defense Staff.

Although the capacity is inevitably inter-force and involves the assets, units and capabilities of all the armed forces, the Army, through the 9th regiment With Moschin, expresses the niche component of absolute excellence that is not matched by any other unit of the national defense and which is available only to the more structured countries from a military point of view.

The current operational requirements expressed by the Defense, the capabilities expressed by the Air Force in terms of air transport and qualified crews as well as further (although not necessary) considerations on the very high costs in the face of an almost zero increase in real capacity a priori, they exclude a possible extension of the HALO / HAHO authorization to other units.

The task of the Defense, and of the Army in the first place, therefore remains to preserve and enhance this niche of excellence within the 9th regiment With Moschin. The evolution of capacity should in fact tend towards an increasingly specialized, elitist and selected niche of excellence concentrated in the single department that has cultivated its development and experience for years rather than towards the attempt to distribute, divide and, inevitably , flatten the capacity with the inevitable consequence of loss of effectiveness, efficiency and waste of resources.

Illustration of the combined use of JPADS and raiding teams in a HALO / HAHO ad / infiltration

Operator preparing for a HALO / HAHO weapon launch at protected targets

Exit from JPADS System C-130 aircraft together with raiding teams

Raider following JPAD at YUMA (the landing strip representing the landing zone is clearly visible)

Illustration of an under sail sailing schedule

Raiders perform HALO launches in tandem with equipment and armament


1 "The Joint Force General Planning delivers to the Armed Forces and the country a new design methodology for capacity enhancement and evolution rigorously collimated on the principles of rationality, economy, efficiency, impartiality, transparency sealed by the timely adoption of solutions characterized by the best ratio in terms of cost / effectiveness and a broader transversal benefit for the components of the Instrument ". Cover_Cap.2 (

2 Do you remember the "Concepts that are learned in the first, maximum in the second grade of the schools of the insiders and that, if you do not buy, lead to rejection without appeal from training institutes - the real ones!"Of the article"Meaning of a special operation"? Here, this is another one of those concepts.

3 In amphibious advertisements the transporters are defined as "primary" if not organic to the raiding units and if used for the insertions (surface or underwater naval units) and "secondary" if organic to the raiding units and used during infiltrations (surface boats , boats, or underwater drivers).

4 Aircraft such as the PILATUS PORTER, the CESSNA Caravan C 208B or C 208, the SC-7 SKYVAN or the CASA 212, which are normally used in aeroclubs for sports aviation activities, have already for some time aroused the interest of the western FS that employ them. in training and also in operations.

5 Until 2019, the jumps without the use of oxygen up to altitudes that exceeded 13.000 feet were called TCL and until the 2000s they were normally performed by all parachute units, even during the basic courses held by the Military School of Parachuting for the qualification for the Free Fall Technique, without using oxygen either by the crew of the aircraft or by the paratroopers.

6 Depending on the intensity of the wind and the altitudes, flying distances of over 50 km were covered with an open parachute.

7 This quota is imposed by the aviation safety regulations. In reality, you can go up to an altitude of 13.000 feet (about 4.000 meters), without providing oxygen to the paratroopers but using it only for the crew of the aircraft, only if you ensure a maximum stay at altitudes between 10.000 and 13.000 feet. less than 30 minutes.

8 The efficiency of an airfoil parachute is its ability to move horizontally with respect to its vertical movement. A parachute that has 3: 1 efficiency travels 3 meters horizontally for every vertical meter it descends. Therefore, in a totally quiet atmosphere, assuming a navigation start at 8.000 meters above sea level, the paratrooper could navigate horizontally for about 24.000 meters (8.000 x 3 (efficiency)). If we assume an average wind in favor of 10 m / s for the entire duration of the descent (which for a parachute that has a descent rate of 3 meters / sec. Lasts 2666 seconds (about 45 minutes) at 24.000 meters of theoretical advancement about 26.000 are added due to the wind for a total of 50 km of possible sailing under sail. These are average data. There are parachutes that have efficiencies that exceed 4: 1 and, depending on the weather conditions, there can be winds in favor of much higher intensity, especially at high altitudes. But there can also be headwinds. Therefore it is always difficult to plan in advance and with precision the distance that can be carried out with the parachute open, especially because, in real situations, in addition to the never very precise forecast of the wind at high altitudes we must add the dilemma that the choice of the exit point from the aircraft cannot be made considering only the weather conditions but must also, and above all, take into account the nza of the enemy.

9 Bases that could also be located outside the Afghan or Iraqi territory.

10 If it were not, at every launch into the water, even for training, the device would inexorably be changed with further economic burden and stop of the parachute complex.

11 Backpack, armament (individual, departmental, against protected targets, etc.), vests, ammunition, instruments for night vision and navigation, technical equipment for the conduct of the mission.

12 We have not been given any numbers in this regard but from our estimates it would be requests for about a hundred sorties in the last two years.

13 Which, no coincidence, obtains the qualification, established in 1991, "for raider authorized to launch operational from high altitude with the use of oxygen equipment "connected with the relative badge. Another qualification conferred by the 9th regiment is that of Assistant Launch Director with Oxygen procedures (ADLO).

14 The JPADS system allows you to launch loads at altitudes between 5.000 and 24.500 feet to reach the landing areas, up to a distance of 25 kilometers from the launch point, with an accuracy of less than 150 meters of error from the desired point of impact. , employing an autonomous GPS guidance system and an airfoil parachute.

15 Only to the raiding departments (Tier 1) of the national Special Operations sector are assigned the missions of Hostage Release Operations, Strategic Reconnaissance and 2 other absolutely confidential missions.

16 Rate of the Airborne Force that is placed on the ground at the premise of the Assault Scaglione.

17 The raiding teams include various professional skills such as snipers, experts in explosives and demolitions, JTACs, experts in communications and connoisseurs of languages ​​as well as being specifically trained to move in any natural environment (mountain, sea, middle plain, desert, arctic climates).

18 For organizational, logistical and asset availability reasons, the HALO / HAHO qualification course can be held for a maximum of 10 military personnel at a time and it is not reasonable to expect to be able to carry out more than 2 courses per year;

19 In the year X + 1 it will be necessary to carry out the 10 HALO / man jumps + the 30 TCL jumps / maintenance man for the 20 skydivers already qualified in the year X and to carry out the course for the further 20. In the year X + 2 it will be necessary to carry out 10 HALO / man jumps + 30 TCL / man jumps for the 40 skydivers already qualified in years X and X + 1 and take the course for the additional 20 skydivers, etc ...

20 Cover_Cap.2 ( "Multiannual Defense Policy Document for the Three-year Period 2021-2023".

Photo: Italian Army / US Marine Corps / author