Indian Air Force conducts trials of Heavy Drop System developed by DRDO


On August 19, the Indian Air Force reported the successful testing of the new Heavy Drop System (HDS) from a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft. This achievement was announced by IAF officials on the same day. The HDS is a product of the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), specifically developed by one of its laboratories.

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Indian Air Force conducts trials of heavy drop system developed by DRDO 1   Testing of P7 HDS / Heavy Drom System (Picture source: Indian Air Force)


This trial was conducted in collaboration with the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE). According to information from recupblicworld.com, ADRDE has engineered various versions of the Heavy Drop System to cater to different transport aircraft such as the Antonov An-32 Cline, the Ilyushin Il-76 Candid, and the McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III. These adaptations account for varying weight capacities of military cargo, namely 3 tonnes, 7 tonnes, and 16 tonnes. The 3-ton and 7-ton capacity systems have been successfully integrated into the Indian Army and Indian Navy, with the naval variant also being developed and delivered.

The Heavy Drop System-P7 designed for the Il-76 features a platform and parachute assembly. This parachute system is composed of five primary canopies, five brake chutes, two auxiliary chutes, and an extractor parachute. The platform itself, constructed using aluminum and steel alloys, weighs approximately 1,110 kg, as per information provided by DRDO.

Weighing around 500 kg, the parachute system guarantees the secure delivery of heavy cargo. Operating within a range of drop speeds from 260 to 400 kph, the system boasts an all-up mass capacity of 8,500 kg and can manage a payload of 7,000 kg. With dimensions of 4216 x 2602 x 193 mm, the system can be easily integrated onto an aircraft. Its manufacturing is aligned with the Make in India initiative and is carried out by L&T, utilizing parachutes from the Ordnance Factory.

The Heavy Drop System-16T is designed specifically for the IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft. Officials have confirmed its capacity to safely and accurately paradrop military cargo weighing up to 16 tons, including BMP vehicles, supplies, and ammunition. This system is indigenous and has previously demonstrated its capability in diverse terrains such as plains, deserts, and high-altitude areas.


Indian Air Force conducts trials of heavy drop system developed by DRDO 2 P7 HDS (Picture source: DRDO)


With dimensions of 7.21 x 3.21 x 0.22 m, the system can be installed on an Il-76 or a similar aircraft platform. The platform itself, constructed from high-strength steel alloy, weighs 2,700 kg. The integrated parachute weighs 2,000 kg, and its drop altitude can vary from 1,000 m to 4,000 m. Drops are carried out at flight speeds ranging from 320 to 400 km/h, and the system's design accounts for five drops over a 10-year lifespan.

ADRDE has also developed a naval variant of the Heavy Drop System. This maritime version has been tailored for naval operations and has been successfully delivered to the Indian Navy, according to DRDO officials. It shares similar features and capabilities with its counterparts in the Army and Air Force.

In 2020, DRDO showcased an enhanced version of the P7 HDS. Validation trials were conducted in the same year shortly after the Galwan conflict. These trials involved dropping two systems from an IL76 aircraft at an altitude of 600 m and a speed of 280 km/h. The cargo was safely landed using a cluster of five large parachutes, each measuring 750 sqm.

The P7, as per officials, enhances the armed forces' capabilities, enabling the delivery of combat stores even to remote and inaccessible regions. Manufactured using indigenous materials, including advanced engineering textiles for improved water and oil repellency.


Indian Air Force conducts trials of heavy drop system developed by DRDO 3 C-17 Globemaster III of the IAF para-dropping the HDS (Picture source: Indian Airforce)