HALO/HAHO

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Template:Expert HALO/HAHO is a term used by the United States armed forces to describe a method of delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion.

HALO is an acronym for High Altitude-Low Opening, and is also known as Military Free Fall (MFF), while HAHO stands for High Altitude-High Opening. In recent years, the HALO technique has been practiced by civilians as a form of skydiving.

The main difference between the two techniques is that in the HALO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time, while in the HAHO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a high altitude just a few seconds after jumping from the aircraft.

The HAHO technique is used for delivering equipment, supplies, or personnel, while the HALO technique is generally used only for personnel. In a typical HALO/HAHO insertion, the airplane will fly at altitudes of up to 8,000m (26,000ft).


Contents

HALO

The origins of the HALO technique date back to 1960 when the U.S. Air Force was conducting experiments that benefited high-flying pilots needing to eject at high altitudes. As part of the experiments, on August 16, 1960, Colonel Joe Kittinger performed the first high altitude jump at an altitude of 19 miles above the Earth's surface. However, the technique was used for combat for the first time in the U.S. military involvement in Laos, when members of MACV-SOG performed the first high altitude combat jumps. SEAL Team SIX of the United States Navy expanded the HALO technique to include delivery of boats and other large items in conjunction with parachutists.

The technique is used to airdrop supplies, equipment, or personnel at high altitudes when aircraft can fly above enemy skies without posing a threat to the load.

For military cargo airdrops, the rigged load is pulled from the aircraft by a stabilizing parachute. The load then proceeds to free-fall to a low altitude where a cargo parachute opens to allow a low-velocity landing. Military personnel will later move to the landing point in order to secure the equipment or to unpack the supplies.

In a typical HALO exercise, the parachutist will jump from the aircraft, free-fall for a period of time, and open his parachute at a low altitude.

HAHO

The HAHO technique is used to airdrop personnel at high altitudes when aircraft can fly above enemy skies without posing a threat to the jumpers.

In a typical HAHO exercise, the jumper will jump from the aircraft and deploy his parachute at a high altitude, 10–15 seconds later after the jump (typically at 27,000 feet or so). The jumper will use a compass to guide himself while flying for 30 or more miles. The jumper will use way points and terrain features to navigate to his desired landing zone, and along the way, he must correct his course for changes in wind speed and direction; making for a tricky navigation problem.

The HAHO technique is also used for delivering military teams. The team will jump from the aircraft and form up in a stack while flying in the air with their parachutes. Usually, the jumper in the lowest position will set the travel course and act as a guide for his other team members.

Health risks

At high altitudes of the Earth's atmosphere, the oxygen quantities required for human respiration become thin. A typical HALO exercise will require the use of an oxygen mask, as the parachuter jumps from an altitude upwards of 12,000 feet.

This type of technique is dangerous to human health, as the lack of oxygen can lead to suffering hypoxia. Hypoxia may cause loss of consciousness, which in consequence puts the parachuter in a mortal risk situation, as he can suffer death from landing impact by not being capable of opening his own parachute.

Another risk is from the coldness at high altitudes. The jumper faces subzero temperatures and risks frost bite. However, they wear polypro and other warm clothing to prevent this.

As with all skydiving, participants run the risk of death or serious injury due to canopy malfunction.

Typical equipment

In a typical HALO exercise, a parachuter will jump with:

  • an altimeter
  • an automatic parachute deployment device:
    • this device will read the air pressure and approximate the current altitude of the parachuter; if this approximation is less than the one pre-set, usually around 700 feet or so, and the parachuter hasn't opened his parachute yet, the device will open the emergency parachute automatically by severing the ripcord.
  • a knife
  • a helmet
  • a pair of gloves
  • a pair of military free-fall boots (designed for ankle support)
  • an oxygen bottle and mask (if jumping over 12,000 feet)
  • a 50-100+ pound ALICE (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) pack with combat gear

List of HALO/HAHO capable military units

References in Fiction

  • In the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Bond HALO jumps out of a plane.
  • In the video game Metal Gear Solid 3, set in 1964, the protagonist Naked Snake performs the world's first HALO. Solid Snake uses the same technique in Metal Gear: Ghost Babel.
  • In the James Bond film Die Another Day (2002), Bond and Jinx do a HALO jump out of a plane, using small one person gliders, (referred to in the film as "switchblade".)
  • The television show The Unit (2006) shows that the special operations team therein is HALO/HAHO capable. Though the dialogue indicates that they are to do a HAHO jump, they are shown free-falling for a considerable time, making the actual jump HALO.
  • In the comic book The Punisher, Castle performed a HALO jump into Siberia during the 'Mother Russia' story arc of the Marvel MAX series of the comic.

Further reading

External links

References

  1. Divine, Mark (2004). Navy SEALs Air Operations - Free Fall: HALO/HAHO (used with permission). US Navy SEAL 1989 to present. Founder of NavySEALs.com.
  2. Allen, Jeffrey (July 1997). High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jump at McChord AFB. US Air Force. United States of America.
  3. Gempis, Val (July 1997). A Bad Altitude. Airman. US Air Force. United States of America.
  4. Black, Mike. HALO jump over Yuma Proving Ground, AZ. US Marine Corps. United States of America.
  5. US DOD (June 5, 2003). US DOD Dictionary of Military Terms. US Department of Defense. United States of America.
  6. US DOD (June 5, 2003). US DOD Dictionary of Military Terms: Joint Acronyms and Abbreviations. US Department of Defense. United States of America.
  7. McKenna, Pat (July 1997). A Bad Altitude. Airman. US Air Force. United States of America.
  8. US Army Infantry School (November 1, 1995). Lesson 3: Airlift Requests and Personnel Used in Airborne. Fundamentals of Airborne Operations, Edition B. US Army Infantry School. US Army. United States of America.
  9. Mcmanners, Hugh (2003), Ultimate Special Forcesde:HALO (Fallschirmspringen)

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