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Free fall

Definition In military operations, the term “free fall” generally refers to the drop of payloads, munitions, or personnel from an aircraft without the initial aid of a parachute or any propulsion system. Payloads or personnel accelerate towards the ground solely under the force of gravity in an uncontrolled manner. The term is often used in […]


In military operations, the term “free fall” generally refers to the drop of payloads, munitions, or personnel from an aircraft without the initial aid of a parachute or any propulsion system. Payloads or personnel accelerate towards the ground solely under the force of gravity in an uncontrolled manner. The term is often used in various military activities which include training, extraction, or bombing missions.

Key Takeaways

  1. ‘Free fall’ in military operations most commonly refers to a type of parachute deployment. In a free fall, the parachute is not deployed immediately after the jumper exits the aircraft. Instead, the jumper falls freely towards the earth for a period of time before manually deploying the parachute.
  2. This method of parachute deployment is employed in military operations for several reasons. One is that it allows for more precise landing, as the jumper has control over when and where the parachute is deployed. This can be crucial in covert operations where precise positioning is required. Another reason is that it allows the jumper to fall at high speed, which reduces the time they are exposed in the air and visible to potential enemies.
  3. Free fall parachute deployment requires significant training and skill to execute safely and effectively. It is typically used by special forces or highly trained military personnel. The jumpers need to be able to accurately judge their altitude and speed, and to deploy the parachute at the correct moment to ensure a safe landing.


Free fall is a crucial term in military operations as it relates to the execution and strategy of airdrops.

It refers to when a payload, either a soldier or equipment, is dropped from an aircraft without the use of a parachute to slow the descent immediately after release.

The term “free fall” signifies that the payload is under the influence of gravity alone until the parachute is deployed at a calculated altitude.

Understanding and accurately executing a free fall is vital as it improves stealth capabilities since aircraft can drop payloads from a higher altitude, reducing the risk of detection.

Proper execution of a free fall can also increase accuracy of the drop and provide strategic advantages on the battlefield.


In military operations, free fall refers to a method of delivering personnel, equipment, or weaponry to a specific location without the use of a parachute deployment system activating automatically. Instead, with a free fall, the parachute isn’t immediately deployed after the person or item exits the aircraft. This term is commonly used in reference to air-dropped items or paratroopers that are strategically positioned.

The purpose of free fall in military operations is two-fold. First, it aims at maintaining secrecy during the influx of troops or equipment into enemy territory. Since parachutes are not immediately deployed, it decreases the chances of being detected as there’s lesser visual or radar exposure.

Second, it enhances the accuracy of the delivery. High Altitude – High Opening (HAHO) and High Altitude – Low Opening (HALO) jumps are two types of free falls used in military operations. With HALO jumps, the parachute is opened at a lower altitude after a longer free fall, minimizing the exposure time.

Meanwhile, in HAHO jumps, the parachute is opened soon after the jump, allowing soldiers to glide a significant distance to their target location. Both are used to deploy troops into specific locations with speed and precision.

Examples of Free fall

“Operation Chrome Dome”: During the Cold War from 1960 to 1968, B-52 bombers were set to continuously fly towards the Soviet Union, executing free fall nuclear weapon drops in case the President ordered it. However, the operation is now more known for the accidents that occurred, such as the 1966 Palomares B-52 crash and the 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash.

The Invasion of Grenada (1983) – Operation Urgent Fury: Free fall might be contextualized in terms of deploying parachute troops called “paratroopers”. During the U.S. invasion of Grenada, paratroopers from the 75th Ranger Regiment and 82nd Airborne Division performed free fall jumps to infiltrate and secure key objectives.

D-Day Invasion (World War II, 1944): Paratroopers from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Division conducted one of the largest airborne assaults in history – a version of free fall – on the eve of the Normandy invasion. These soldiers jumped behind enemy lines under the cover of darkness to disrupt German communications and hinder reinforcements.

FAQs for Military Operation: Free Fall

What is Operations Free Fall?

Operations Free Fall is a specific method of insertion in military operations which involves parachuting, and more specifically refers to a method of parachuting from an aircraft in high altitude and delaying the opening of the parachute.

What is the relevance of Free Fall in Military Operations?

Free fall military operations allow the insertion of soldiers, equipment or supplies in a discrete manner without being detected by enemy radars. It provides a valuable strategic advantage in warfare.

What Equipment is necessary for Free Fall Operations?

Apart from the typical military gear, the main equipment necessary for free fall operations are parachute systems designed for high altitude jumps, oxygen systems for the jumpers, and sometimes specialized clothing to protect against extreme temperatures at high altitude.

What kind of training is required for Free Fall Operations?

Free Fall operations require specialized training. This includes training in high altitude jumping, navigation during the jump, controlling the parachute, and often other combat related skills as well.

Are Free Fall Operations dangerous?

While there are additional risks involved with free fall operations due to the high altitude and the nature of the jump, these risks are mitigated by proper training, equipment, and operational procedures. That said, like most military operations, there is always inherent risk involved.

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