CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq -- Two Sherpa units, the Marine Corps' two newest skydivers, made their first combat zone landing Aug. 9, 2004, from nearly two miles high to within less than 200 meters of their target
The Sherpa units--programmed with the drop zone's coordinates, guided by the Global Positioning System, and maneuvered by motor-tugged lines--each rode a pallet of rations to the drop zone.
The Sherpas belong to the 1st Air Delivery Platoon, part of Combat Service Support Battalion 7, 1st Force Service Support Group, which delivers supplies to Marine units throughout the vast western portion of Iraq's Al Anbar Province.
GPS-guided parachutes like the Sherpa eliminate numerous disadvantages of air dropping supplies to far-flung troops, said Army Capt. Art Pack, 37, combat developer with the Army's Combined Arms Support Command in Fort Lee, Va.
The Sherpa uses a rectangular, 900-square-foot parachute, which can be steered, vice a classic round chute. It also incorporates a small drogue parachute to help stabilize the cargo pallet, keeping it facing upward so the main chute opens properly after freefalling.
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