If you haven’t heard of a HALO jump, don’t worry. Kim Jong Un has, and you can bet he knows what it means for him and his country.
HALO stands for high-altitude, low-opening. It’s a form of paramilitary warfare in which troops parachute into enemy territory. However, they definitely don’t do it from a Cessna.
According to GlobalSecurity.org, military personnel jump from altitudes up to 35,000 feet, which protects both the aircraft and jumpers from ground fire. Then, they drop down to about 3,500 feet, where they’re at a terminal velocity of 126 mph — almost impossible for the North Koreans to pick off.
Take a look at a HALO jump from military jump school:
HALO also has a brother known as HAHO — high-altitude, high-opening. HAHO jumps are used when there’s some limit on the aircraft travel — such as crossing a border. The paratroopers are released at a very high altitude, which gives them the ability to travel much farther distances with a lower risk of detection than if they were in a warplane.
Of course, this makes the chances that the paratroopers can be shot at a bit greater, as well as exposing the troops to the extreme cold of higher altitudes for a longer period of time, but one Marine platoon commander told We Are the Mighty during a recent HAHO practice that it increases “our capabilities as teams to clandestinely infiltrate from high altitudes — offsetting between 10 to 25 kilometers and ultimately landing on our designated impact point.”
“This training is important because it allows us to provide the supporting unit commander that special insert capability,” a Marine team leader added. “For us, jumping that unmarked and unknown drop zone is going to allow that commander to extend his area of influence and he is going to be able to do it all in-house as opposed to having to outsource to another Special Operations Command.”
For such jumps, the Marines use the Joint Precision Air Drop System, an advanced set of technologies that increases accuracy through advancements like steerable parachutes, GPS, and other fun stuff.
“We can follow the JPADS system out of the aircraft and navigate to the designated impact point,” the platoon commander said. “What we can do is load that JPADS up with vehicles for mobility, food and water for sustainment; it could be used for sensitive equipment, so we can use it once we hit the ground.”
Those things are almost impossible for North Korea to defend against — they simply don’t have the technology. Thus, if the Marines wanted to infiltrate North Korea, they literally can’t be stopped. HALO and HAHO may not be household names, but you can bet every regime member in Pyongyang knows what they are — and what they could accomplish if war breaks out.
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