Insertion and Boarding Practices for Special Forces
It is 36 years since the ‘Fast Roping’ technique was first used operationally, in the Falklands/Malvinas conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982. Since then the technique – a method of delivering helicopter-borne troops to ground locations on which the helicopter cannot land – has become a widespread solution for special forces and regular troops in challenging terrestrial environments or in boarding operations at sea.
In the intervening period Marlow Ropes – the “first and original fast rope pioneers,” according to the company – has earned an outstanding reputation for quality and technical innovation for its defence and special forces products around the world. This reputation is born out of pioneering designs that have been tried and tested in the world’s harshest environments and toughest combat zones.
Fast Roping is a quicker technique than abseiling (rappelling) and involves a person (unattached from a descender) holding onto the rope with gloved hands and sliding down. It can be a hazardous operation, particularly if the person is carrying a heavy load. Due to the specific and hazardous nature of Fast Roping, Marlow has worked to develop a technically superior range that meets the needs of a wide range of global users.
The leading products in the Marlow Ropes Defence portfolio are the Fast Ropes range, of which the company is proud to have been the originators of, in conjunction with British Special Forces. This range is now used by traditional regiments, special forces and SWAT teams across the globe. A high-quality Marlow Fast Rope can always be identified by the Marlow ‘Black Marker’ trademark: the company adheres to tough ISO quality standards, with many products meeting stringent CE and ANSI compliance testing and NATO codification rules. Specific benefits of Marlow Fast Ropes include:
- Unique supple construction, allowing comfortable control throughout the descent and making deceleration and braking simpler;
- Supple material means that the rope is easy on the hands, as less force is required than with other ropes;
- The material’s ability to absorb liquids means oil and general spillage does not affect the speed of descent;
- The advanced range caters for specific requirements, including a 32mm fast rope designed specifically for Asian forces, a heavy weight 40mm designed for stability with strong updraft and a firm 40mm for improved abrasion resistance.
Marlow’s Fast Rope range extends further and includes innovative Insertion and Extraction systems for rapid deployment and retrieval, reducing risk to helicopters and personnel. The multi-use Fast Rope Insertion, Extraction System (FRIES) can be used as both a standard fast rope and also for carrying six fully-equipped personnel with a loop and lanyard system.
The Special Patrol Insertion & Extraction (SPIE) system has been developed for transporting a larger number of personnel (10-12 people as standard) and benefits from a two-loop integrated colour coded safety system. The SPIE WPX and DPX are floating extraction systems, allowing for easier retrieval from waterborne operations ropes.
Marlow’s Fast Ropes are used in conjunction with a range of technical hardware and accessories, including the Fast Rope quick release mechanism (QRM) which is designed for the release of fast ropes in case of emergency. The FRR is a Fast Rope descender used with 40mm Fast Rope, ideal for descending with heavy equipment, untrained personnel or dogs.