The C-130 is well known for her ability to perform a LAPES (Low Altitude Parachute Extraction) drop to deliver vehicles to an airhead.

I'm wondering if other larger military airlift aircraft that are also able to perform this maneuver, in particular the C-17, or (unlikely) the C-5?

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    $\begingroup$ Pretty sure the C-17 does. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 3:08
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure I once saw a clip of some RuAF aircraft doing this, but cannot find it right now. I'll try to find it, but a priori I don't see LAPES requiring anything but a very stable aircraft that does not pitch hard the moment the cargo is deployed. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Just the C-130. The C-17 was intended to have that capability, but it was decided against.

That's according to a 1995 report to congressional committees (gao.gov; PDF):

C-17's Intended Role Has Changed

(...) the C-17's unique 60,000 pound low-altitude parachute extraction system (LAPES) capability is not needed, and the aircraft cannot meet original airdrop requirements.

Unique C-17 LAPES Capability No Longer Required

LAPES is a means of extracting equipment while an airlifter flies at low levels. At present, the C-130 is the only aircraft capable of LAPES operations, and it is limited to extracting 42,000 pounds of equipment. In 1981, the Army identified an "urgent need" to develop a LAPES capability up to 60,000 pounds. According to Army officials, this capability was needed to extract armored artillery pieces, ammunition, and towing vehicles from the same LAPES platform, which would minimize dispersion over the drop zone. The C-17 was intended to provide this unique capability. In March 1994, the Army acknowledged that " LAPES has been an expensive, unused, untrained capability and is potentially of limited battlefield use." The Army stated that the current C-130 42,000-pound LAPES capability "appears to more than adequately address foreseeable Army requirements." The Army intends neither to maintain the material systems and rigging required for the 60,000-pound LAPES platform nor to conduct C-17 LAPES training. Thus, the C-17 will not be used for this mission. However, AMC officials noted that testing of a 42,000-pound C-17 LAPES capability is currently underway.

While the report is from 1995, it is the only official mention of the matter that I've been able to find. That's probably why you haven't found videos for it either. The C-17 does parachute down equipment though from higher-than-LAPES altitudes.

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    $\begingroup$ @quietflyer: seems so, yours is unofficial, check their About Us. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ This website provides a "yes" answer for the C-17, but apparently it is wrong: airforce-technology.com/projects/c17 : "The transport aircraft is equipped for LAPES (low-altitude parachute extraction system) drops." $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 19:32

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