Accessibility Information

Users of assistive technologies such as screen readers should use the following link to activate Accessibility Mode before continuing: Learn more and Activate accessibility mode.

16--Low Cost Parafoil

Solicitation Number: WARPADD-RFI-LCP
Agency: Department of the Army
Office: Army Contracting Command
Location: ACC-APG - Natick (PADDS)
  • Print
Sources Sought
Added: Apr 06, 2010 2:30 pm Modified: Apr 27, 2010 9:14 amTrack Changes
This is a Request for Information (RFI) from the U. S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, Natick, MA, to identify sources with the capability to rapidly develop and manufacture an expendable gliding decelerator system compatible with the Armys current Joint Precision Aerial Delivery System, 2,000 Pound (JPADS 2K).

The gliding decelerator system must be capable of being deployed at up to 18,000 ft MSL (threshold) and 25,000 ft MSL (objective) from USAF cargo aircraft, with a lift to drag ratio of 3.2 to 1 and sufficiently robust to safely deliver a 1000 1850 lb (threshold) and 500 2200 pound (objective) payload with a reliability of 92% with a 90% confidence and interface with the JPADS 2K Airborne Guidance Unit (AGU).

The current JPADS 2K gliding decelerator system is comprised of a 1025 sq ft. semi-elliptical parafoil that is deployed by a static line initiated drogue parachute.
The two basic problems with re-using parafoils in an operational environment are recovery and material damage. Since the systems are typically used in areas inaccessible by ground vehicles, the current Concept of Operations (CONOPs) calls for returning airdrop systems primarily via helicopter. Space on helicopters is at a premium due to the volume and weight of equipment and personnel that have to be transported. Since the JPADS 2K systems AGU is the more expensive and the smaller of the two components (wt and volume), the parafoil is often not recovered, or sustains significant damage from the cutting of suspension lines rendering it beyond economical repair. Second, if parafoils are not expeditiously recovered from the dropzone they can sustain damage from the extreme environmental conditions. Sunlight degrades the strength of the material and the wind can drag the parafoil through rough terrain that damages both the parafoil material and lines often beyond economical repair. An AGU can survive much longer in these environments and is therefore more readily re-used.
An expendable and hence lower cost parafoil for the JPADS 2K system would provide an airdrop capability beneficial to both the Air Force (high altitude delivery with horizontal offset) and the Army since the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) would not need to recover and retrograde the parafoils back to riggers for re-use.

It is recognized that with an expendable and less expensive parafoil the performance characteristics may diminish; however it is essential the parafoil still be capable of performing the mission requirements under the current JPADS 2K Concept of Operations (CONOPs). At a minimum, it should be capable of being deployed at altitudes of up to 18,000 ft MSL (Threshold) 24,500 ft AGL (Objective), of carrying between 1000 1850 lbs of suspended weight (T) 500 2200 lbs suspended (O), compatible with the JPADS 2K flight parameters found in the JPADS Mission Planner and landing at 28.5 fps (T) or less (O) with the cargo payload 85% mission capable (T) or greater (O). Deployment may be from fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft. It should deploy without damage and be capable of delivering the payload safely and in working condition. This parafoil is intended for use with cargo systems only and will not be used for personnel. The parafoil system should be delivered to the government pre-packed. A one time use parafoil that arrives pre-packed from the manufacturer will relieve receiving units in theater of the burden of parafoil packing in addition to recovery and repair. The parafoils should attach to an AGU and payload using established JPADS 2K rigging methods as much as possible and not require new training for riggers. It should also be compatible with the Armys existing JPADS 2K AGU configuration and Guidance, Navigation and Control software; having steering lines that can be controlled by the AGU and able to withstand the forces and wear/tear imposed by the AGUs motors. Interface specifications for the JPADS 2K parafoil and AGU are available from the technical point of contact below to responders who have or can demonstrate the ability to manufacture such systems/components.

The government is looking for the offerors to provide an estimate of the manufacturing costs and delivery schedule estimate of the proposed system in quantities of 10, 100 and 500 to include a delivery schedule for each quantity. Achievement of the cost and schedule goals can be attained by development or use of inexpensive textiles and innovative construction techniques that will produce a ram-air parachute capable of meeting the aforementioned performance requirements. Offerors need to be cognizant of the Berry Amendment, which precludes the Department of Defense from procuring textile or textile end products that are not produced or manufactured in the United States. Therefore, any parachute material or end product must be made in the United States.

Proprietary information will not be disclosed outside of the U.S. government. All interested firms, regardless of size, are encouraged to respond to this request for information. This Request for Information is for planning purposes only and shall not be construed as a Request for Proposal or as an obligation on the part of the Government. The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this request or otherwise pay for information solicited. We are seeking sources, technical and product information for products which meet the DoD requirements, or may meet requirements with modifications. Firms responding to this RFI shall bear all risk and expense of any resources used to provide the requested information, and all information submitted in response to this request shall become the property of the Government and will not be returned to the submitter. Please submit your responses by 7 June 2010. Responses may be sent via email to or by regular mail to US Army RDECOM, Natick Soldier RD&E Center, RDNS-WPA, Attn: Sanjay Patel, 15 Kansas Street, Natick, MA 01760-5017.
RDECOM Natick Contracting Center ICP (RDECOM-CC), ATTN: CCRD-NA, Building 1, Kansas Street, Natick, MA 01760-5011
RDECOM Warfighter Protection & Aerial Delivery Directorate ATTN: RDNS-WPA, Building 3, Kansas Street Natick MA
Allison Griffin, 508-233-4495

RDECOM Natick Contracting Center ICP (RDECOM-CC)