September 26, 2008 Parachute design and manufacturing company Airborne Systems has successfully tested a precision guided cargo delivery system capable of carrying 42,000 pounds under a single ram-air parachute. GigaFly, as the system is known, was used to drop a 33,000 lb load from a C-130 aircraft at 15,000 feet and autonomously guide its cargo to a point 275 meters from the designated target.
GigaFly has a canopy area of 10,400 square feet and a wingspan of 195 feet (making it almost as wide as the wings on a Boeing 747). The system uses an on board GPS guidance unit and software to deliver its cargo autonomously to point on the ground from up to 22 kilometers away and is designed for airdrop at altitudes as high as 25,000 feet with rate-of-descent of 14 feet per second.
The GigaFly test was conducted as part of a US Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center development program. According to the program manager, "GigaFly is the largest ram-air ever to be deployed successfully and without the use of pyrotechnics. What has been accomplished here both technically and physically is remarkable."