Very few specialties in the United States Air Force require enlisted Airmen or officers to earn the Military Free-fall (MFF) Parachutist badge, which in Air Force Instruction 11-402 is titled “Basic High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) Parachutist.” Issued only at the basic and Master levels, the MFF Parachutist badge can be viewed as a membership card to a very elite club—and also as proof that the Airmen wearing it have invested considerable amounts of time and effort to earn that privelege.
The first step toward qualifying as a MFF Parachutists is to earn the basic Parachutist badge, which requires successful completion of one of three school-based training programs. For enlisted personnel, the most commonly attended is the U.S. Army’s Basic Airborne Course held at the Army Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia. Another sanctioned course is included in the United States Air Force Academy’s Airmanship program, but it does have a drawback: its graduates are not qualified in tactical procedures and may not take part tactical parachuting operations, even at the training level. A third approved method is to attend a course taught by a mobile training team that’s been approved for parachutist training by the Army’s Infantry Center.
You can learn more about the steps for earning the basic Parachutist badge on our store’s Web page; the complete guidelines for basic, Senior, and Master Parachutists badges are outlined in Air Force Instructions 11-402 and 11-410.
With the basic Parachutist badge in hand, Air Force Personnel seeking MFF qualification must gradate from either the Master Free-fall course taught by the U.S. Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (JFKSWCS) or a service-approved MFF course. (Examples of the latter include the Military Airlift Command High Glide Ratio Parachute Course and the Navy MFF course certified by United States Special Operations Command.)
During the JFKSWCS four-week course held at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, Airmen are taught how to pack and wear free-fall parachutes, how to rig weapons and equipment, the use of oxygen equipment, and body stabilization during free-fall, and various procedures related to aircraft operations and emergency situations. They undergo at least 23 MFF parachute jumps at altitudes ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 feet; both with and without weapons, combat equipment, and oxygen equipment during day and nighttime conditions. Unlike basic Parachutist badges, there is no minimum number of jumps required to be awarded the MFF badge.
For the Master-level MFF badge, Airmen must have held their MFF qualification for a full three years with an organization that has been assigned a MFF parachute jump mission (the 36 months do not need to be consecutive, however). It almost goes without saying that they also must be qualified as a Master static-line parachutist, as well as having qualified as MFF Jumpmasters.