Hundreds of soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division jumped into the skies over Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Thursday as they prepare to deploy for missions around the world.
Thursday's jumps were nothing new for the 4/25 soldiers, who call themselves Spartans, but the parachutes are. The Army recently switched from the 60-year-old T-10 model parachute system to the T-11.
The new version can carry 400 pounds, up from 360, according to the Army. It's part of an effort to lower the injury rate of paratroopers, with 1 percent of jumps resulting in an injury.
"If they see something going on, if they are coming down slower, they can react to and get out of the way so they can ensure a better parachute falling," said Chief Warrant Officer Michelle Charge, of the 725th Brigade Support Battalion.
Members of the 4/25 believe the new chutes will make their drops slower and landings softer.
"Those people all have a certain job to do, and you don't want to have to stop and care for someone who got injured because they came in so fast," Charge said.
The Army says the gear will help its wearers become better soldiers.
Spc. Brian Williams of the 425th Brigade said the new parachutes will help soldiers focus.
"It gives us more confidence with our equipment and (helps us) trust it so we can get the job done," he said.