French dog becomes first to parachute with oxygen mask
For the first time ever, a military working dog parachuted wearing an oxygen system. The test-jump took place during a campaign of military free fall (MFF) by the Air Parachute Commando 10th unit of the French Air Force in November 2020.
The innovative Arcane (for Adaptative CANine Respirator) system developed for the task is a regular oxygen mask, on which an airtight canine adapter is fitted. The objective of the project was to eventually be able to integrate a dog into all missions of the commando unit, even those that require high altitude parachuting.
“As a full member of the squad, the dog is essential in order to have tactical autonomy," explained Lieutenant Vincent, initiator of the Arcane project. “More than a simple reinforcement, we realized that the dog brings an indisputable operational asset on the ground. This is why we wanted to develop our fighting capacity by integrating a dog handler and his teammate into our MFF group.”
Laos, a 5-year-old trained dog, was chosen for the task of testing the innovation. Ahead, a 3-D printed prototype was modeled to ensure that the system was perfectly adapted to the head of Laos and would remain airtight. A mannequin was built to carry out the first jumps-tests with the Arcane system.
After almost a year of preparation, Laos finally jumped from a C160 Transall of the “Poitou” transport squadron, carried by his handler and wearing the Arcane oxygen system. Several jumps took place throughout November 2020. “After each jump, Laos went through biting or explosive research exercises, all under veterinary control” to verify the physiological condition of the dog, Lieutenant Vincent explained. The tests were reportedly conclusive.
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