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UK parachute delivery specialist IrvinGQ attended LIMA 2023, held from 23-26 May 2023 in Langkawi, Malaysia, to promote the company’s ATAX medium-weight aerial delivery solution.

Although the Malaysian armed forces have recently bought an aerial delivery system, it is understood that the system has been failing and has subsequently not been qualified.

With that in mind, Andrew Herrod, IrvinGQ’s business development manager, confirmed to ESD at LIMA on 24 May that he had briefed the Malaysian army chief on ATAX earlier that day and more generally sees Southeast Asia as a priority future market for IrvinGQ.

Regarding the company’s next moves, Herrod explained that “It’s a process,” adding, “I think we’ve got to do a trial and show them the capability.”

ATAX is a patented modular, multi-functional land and marine airdrop system that offers a significantly enhanced airdrop capability over current systems and can be deployed operationally under visual meteorological conditions (VMC) day and night. The system is deployable from multiple transport aircraft, including the C-130, C-17 and A400M.

While significant time is lost with other systems in the preparation and rigging of vehicles and equipment for paradrops, ATAX is designed to allow vehicles and equipment to be rigged in a matter of minutes rather than hours, the company states. Once delivered and on the ground ATAX allows the load to be de-rigged even faster, still, which reduces the time that personnel could be exposed to any local threat.

An IrvinGQ infographic explaining how its ATAX system works. (Image: IrvinGQ)

ATAX also minimises the amount of debris left on the drop zone through the employment of reusable airbag-deceleration packs that slot into the platform.

One key advantage of IrvinGQ’s extraction system is that it is purely mechanical, which removes the major burden of using pyrotechnic and electrical components, allowing full functional checks of the system’s safety mechanisms to be performed while the load remains within the aircraft, rather than it having to be removed. This aspect of the ATAX system, which negates an industry-recognised single point of failure, is currently being patented.

Meanwhile, Herrod noted that the ATAX system is currently being bid by IrvinGQ to address the UK Ministry of Defence’s Medium Weight Aerial Delivery (MWAD) requirement for airdropping equipment and vehicles from the Royal Air Force’s A400Ms. The MWAD programme is worth around GBP 50 M (EUR 57.7 M).

Peter Felstead