Army paratroopers conduct a heavy drop and fire mission during Exercise Panther Storm on the Salerno Drop Zone at Fort Bragg, N.C., Nov. 5, 2020.

Panther Storm provides paratroopers the opportunity to train in joint forcible entry and combat operations. Heavy drop and fire missions are crucial for ensuring readiness. These exercises simulate air filed seizure operations, a crucial part of the 82nd Airborne’s mission. Battalions of the 82nd routinely perform heavy drop missions — generally once a month — to hone and develop their airborne artillery skills.

These heavy drops involve air dropping artillery pieces — such as howitzers — paratroopers and vehicles. Once on the group, paratroopers are tasked with unpacking the artillery pieces from their protective crates, assembling them and staging them. Once staged, the gun crews receive coordinates and fire on ‘enemy’ targets. Then, the guns are moved again and new coordinates are issued.

Want to learn more about airborne operations? Check out Kevin Maurer’s new book, Rock Force, which covers the daring stand at Corregidor and the valiant recapture of the strategic island stronghold.