First things first, FRIES.

FRIES or Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System, commonly known as “fast rope,” is one of the most crucial techniques for descending from air to ground. It was developed to deploy troops from an aircraft in settings and predicaments where it would be difficult or impossible for the helicopter to land safely. The power to react to emergencies and serve as part of a rapid reaction force gives soldiers the ability to fast rope. Additionally, it enables them to carry out tasks requiring stealth and board vessels at sea or even oil platforms.

The South African Air Force performs fast roping from both sides of an Atlas Oryx helicopter. (Source: NJR ZACC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

About the FRIES

FRIES is a mechanical system that uses thick ropes to enable the rapid infiltration and exfiltration of small units of soldiers into and out of tight regions by helicopter. During the Falklands War, it saw its first use in active combat for the first time after being created by Marlow Ropes in collaboration with British special operations. In modern times, special operations forces, law enforcement, and fire departments use it. However, in most cases, the use of FRIES is limited to predicaments in which aircraft are unable to land and where the needs of the mission do not necessitate the transportation of vast quantities of gear, weapons, or crew-served weapons.

FRIES Components

The FRIES bar is fastened to the hard point underneath the direct transmission in the plane overhead in a Black Hawk. It is also positioned near the exact center of the opening in the cargo door. The FRIES bar slides out from this place and extends beyond the floor to facilitate the deployment of people from both sides of the aircraft via the cargo doors. This enables fast rope operations from either side of the plane, depending on the mission’s requirements. In addition, its telescoping capability lowers the mount’s overall physical footprint by a substantial amount, per the report.

Additionally, Sky Core included that the FRIES Bar Assembly comprises an extended bar bolstered by a spherical support tube component with a rope release or attachment assembly. On the other hand, the FRIES support assembly bar is equipped with a rope release handle that can be accessed from either side of the cargo compartment walls. This allows the rope to be removed from the bar.

How to Fast Rope

You are rappelling from a helicopter without using a harness when you are fast roping. Instead, you grip a large, thick rope and slide down while wearing heavy gloves that protect your hands from being burned by the friction of the rapid descent. When you get to the bottom, all you have to do is let go of the rope and get prepared for combat. It may be completed in record time, and soldiers must bring the equipment necessary to launch an aggressive assault. This is also used in the situation if the aircraft is coming into a “hot” landing zone where enemy fire is expected. Additionally, the risks are significantly increased, and troops do not generally rope in with their full load of gear due to the extra weight involved.

To prevent the ropes from knotting and to possibly make short trails that are still fully controllable and safe, they are constructed out of low-stretch nylon fibers and have an 8-braid pleated design. In addition, the bottoms of the fast ropes have been “whipped” and heat sealed as per the information, giving them the strength of roughly 30,000 pounds.

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Senior Airman Josiah Blanton, a pararescueman, fast ropes from an HH-60G Pave Hawk. (Source: Master Sgt. Ruby Zarzyczny, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Fast Rope vs. Air Assaults

In the fight against terrorism, it is said that air assault has shown to be more effective than fast ropes. The 173rd Airborne Brigade was the last unit of the US Army to participate in a combat jump or parachute operation. This took place in the early phases of the procedures for the independence of Iraq in northern Iraq. According to the report, the advantages of air assault operations over fast roping are speed, the ability to infiltrate equipment, and improved deception.  You can also jump far more troops into an area in a C-17, than you can with helicopters fast roping them in.