By Chen Dashai and Zeng Xianchang
Ma Yinghao and his military working dog Xiaoluoconduct a 1200-meter-altitude tandem jump. (Video screenshot)
On a fine and clear day in early summer, Ma Yinghao, a military working dog handler assigned to a guard and service company of a brigade under the PLA 72nd Group Army, was preparing for a parachuting exercise together with Xiaoluo, his military working dog, on a training ground in eastern Anhui Province. The incoming tandem jump from an altitude of 1200 meters would be the maiden jump for the dog Xiaoluo.
In the preparation area, Ma helped Xiaoluo put on the gears including the parachute pack and a blindfold. These materials have been specially prepared in line with the training progress and habitual nature of Xiaoluo.
“Xiaoluo is usually gentle and mild, not prone to make impatient or struggling actions. Meanwhile, extensive adaptive training in the early stages has helped Xiaoluo get accustomed to the high-altitude environment and the roaring of helicopters,” said Ma Yinghao. According to Ma, the blindfold was used to help Xiaoluo overcome his in-born acrophobia and prevent him from panicking due to weightlessness before the parachute is opened.
In order to complete the training smoothly, Ma and Xiaoluo had done a lot of preparatory work together in recent weeks. To overcome the impact and psychological fear from noise, high altitude and other factors as soon as possible, Ma had to conduct tacit training with Xiaoluo on daily basis, while taking him to watch helicopters take off and land dozens of times, and board the helicopter multiple times to experience the impact of high-altitude airflow, noise, and various flight feelings, so that Xiaoluo could adapt to the high-altitude environment.
“When I first got aboard a helicopter along with Xiaoluo, he was quite scared and even dared not approach the helicopter," Ma recalled the scene during the early-stage training. At that time, the massive hot airflow generated by starting the helicopter's rotor wing made Xiaoluo run away from the helicopter.
In response to the situation, Ma worked out a phased training plan. Whenever a helicopter flew over, he accompanied Xiaoluo to feel the airflow and temperature. They boarded the helicopter after Xiaoluo got adapted to the environment, and watched the parachutists jump, feeling the changes in the high-altitude environment.
This time, upon the order, Ma, hugging his legs and bending down to contract his body while holding Xiaoluo, jumped out of the cabin together with the parachutist. A few seconds later, a pure white parachute flower bloomed in the blue sky.
High in the air, Ma took off Xiaoluo’s blindfold and they jointly looked down at the beautiful scenery below. “We have specially chosen the tandem parachuting, because in this way, the handler could have more time to take care of the dog, while the parachutist takes control of the parachute,” he introduced.
Height adjusting, turning, and landing, with the skillful operation of the parachutist, they landed precisely on the predetermined area, completing Xiaoluo's first jump.
An excellent military working dog has to be qualified to undertake different tasks such as tracking, reconnaissance, search, etc. Assigned to a special operations team, Xiaoluo has to be more skillful so that it can assist the special operations team in completing diverse tasks. That’s why he has to practice high-altitude parachute jump. Over the past 10 years since its enlistment, Xiaoluo has grown into a professional tracking dog and completed multiple tasks including field tracking and capture of captives in major training activities.
“Although this marks his first parachute jump, Xiaoluo has done very well and the entire process was very smooth and coordinated," Ma said happily, caressing Xiaoluo. “In the future, we will target high-altitude parachute jump training of diverse conditions such as at different altitudes, with different models of parachutes, as well as in different conditions, with the aim to continuously improve our ability in high-altitude infiltration combat."
It is learned that the brigade is to explore the tactics for the special operations team with military working dogs in completing aerial infiltration, tracking and enemy annihilation.