Aerial resupply lands on ground troops


NATICK, Mass. (March 10, 2015) — The U.S. Army is streamlining efforts to provide squad- and platoon-level ground Soldiers, operating in austere environments, with an organic aerial resupply capability that will empower and sustain them on the battlefield.

The Enhanced Speed Bag System, or ESBS, fills this capability gap by drastically increasing the survivability rate of critical resupply items such as water, ammunition, rations and medical supplies, which must be air-dropped from helicopters to small units on the ground. The system includes a hands-free linear brake, rope, and a padded cargo bag that can hold up to 200 pounds and be dropped from 100 feet.

ESBS was originally developed by engineers, from the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC’s, Aerial Delivery Directorate and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC’s, Logistics Research and Engineering Directorate to standardize the improvised airdrop methods used in theater to resupply units in remote locations, where traditional resupply methods, such as truck convoys, are too impractical or threat laden.

“The goal was to standardize ad hoc techniques used with body bags and duffel bags by providing a material solution and giving units enough knowledge and training to utilize it,” said Dale Tabor, NSRDEC’s aerial delivery design and fabrication team leader.

“We originally received this need from the field, specifically for emergency ammunition resupply,” said Bob Forrester, an engineer with ARDEC’s Logistics Research and Engineering Directorate at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey. “We received the requirements, found the funding, and teamed with Natick as the technical lead.

“Essentially, we worked the ammunition survivability piece, and NSRDEC worked the aerial delivery piece,” Forrester said.

At an evaluation conducted in July 2013 on Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, teams packed six ESBS cargo bags with 12,720 rounds of ammunition, each distributed based on a squad-level basic load, and dropped from a 100-foot crane. They thoroughly inspected the rounds and conducted a live fire to determine the ammunition system’s effectiveness.

The results were a 98-percent survivability rating of ammunition dropped with the ESBS – a vast improvement from the 50-60 percent experienced with ad hoc methods.

Subsequent evaluation at Army Expeditionary Warfighting Experiment Spiral I 2014 prompted ARDEC to “recommend the immediate fielding of ESBS to deployed Soldiers,” Forrester said.

“What we have done is taken resupply to the lowest possible level – the squad and platoon levels,” Tabor said.

“Soldiers at unit level are trained how to get the system packaged, loaded in the aircraft, and delivered,” Tabor said. “In this way, ESBS provides an organic resupply capability.”

Advancement of the system gained increased momentum through the involvement of the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, or REF, an organization uniquely chartered to combine requirement validation, acquisition authority and flexible funding under one roof.

Full article details here


Marines Renew Unmanned K-Max in Afghanistan (Again)

1 October 2013

The U.S. Marine Corps has once again extended the Kaman/Lockheed Martin unmanned K-Max helicopter trial in Afghanistan for another full year from August 2013. This despite of one of the two aircraft crashing on June 5 at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, which has left it grounded and in need of extensive repairs. The USMC will continue with one aircraft and have not yet committed funds to repair the second aircraft.
From simple point-to-point delivery of logistics when the K-Max UAS first entered Afghanistan in December 2011, its mission profile has been increasingly… more…

Robocopters to the Rescue


We’re standing on the edge of the hot Arizona tarmac, radio in hand, holding our breath as the helicopter passes 50 meters overhead. We watch as the precious sensor on its blunt nose scans every detail of the area, the test pilot and engineer looking down with coolly professional curiosity as they wait for the helicopter to decide where to land. They’re just onboard observers. The helicopter itself is in charge here.

Traveling at 40 knots, it banks to the right. We smile: The aircraft has made its decision, probably setting up to do a U-turn and land on a nearby clear area. Suddenly, the pilot’s voice crackles over the radio: “I have it!” That means he’s pushing the button that disables the automatic controls, switching back to manual flight. Our smiles fade. “The aircraft turned right,” the pilot explains, “but the test card said it would turn left.”  More…

USMC Unmanned Lift Competition Taking Shape

Sep. 25, 2013
QUANTICO, VA. — Two of the companies competing for the Marine Corps’ unmanned lift/ISR capability are facing off on opposite sides of the display tent this week here, offering unmanned helicopter variants of traditionally manned birds.

Working as a subcontractor to Aurora Flight Sciences to compete for the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program, Boeing has been flying its H-6U Little Bird helicopter unmanned, preparing for a Marine Corps evaluation in February at Quantico.

The companies are flying the Little Bird near Manassas with a pilot on board, but not controlling the aircraft, because having the pilot option helps them comply with FAA regulations, said the company’s Michael Sahag, business development for unmanned airborne systems.  More…



USMC Extends K-Max in Afghanistan Again Despite June Crash


September 11, 2013; Rotor & Wing Magazine

The U.S. Marine Corps has once again extended the Kaman/Lockheed Martin K-Max unmanned helicopter trial in Afghanistan for another full year from August 2013. This despite of one of the two aircraft crashing on June 5 at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, which has left it grounded and in need of extensive repairs. The USMC will continue with one aircraft and have not yet committed funds to repair the second aircraft. More…


‘First Practical’ Jetpack Attracts Security, Military Interest

September 09, 2013


By Graham Warwick
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Border patrols, first responders and bungee jumpers looking for a new thrill are all potential users of what developer Martin Aircraft says will be the first practical Jetpack when deliveries begin in 2014. The military is also interested, for use on manned or unmanned missions ranging from radio relay to personnel insertion and cargo resupply.

The Auckland-based company has conducted initial manned test flights of the latest prototype of its ducted-fan Jetpack after receiving a permit to fly from New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority. The single-pilot machine is being developed to comply at first with rules governing microlights, but new CEO Peter Coker acknowledges Martin will have to work with individual regulators around the world if the Jetpack is to fulfill its promise as a “motorbike in the sky.”

Designed for a cruise speed of 30 kt., range of 30 km (19 mi.) and endurance of 30 min., the vertical-takeoff-and-landing Jetpack is attracting interest for uses as disparate as search and rescue, pipeline inspection, corporate events, flying displays and a “jetpack experience” for thrill seekers. As an unmanned heavy lifter, with the ability to carry a 150-kg (330-lb.) payload, the machine is being looked at by the agricultural and film industries, Coker says. More…

Drone Parcel Delivery… China Could be First to Legalize

By Gwynn Guilford @sinoceros September 3, 2013

In building drones that kill people, the US has a couple-decade head start on China. But when it comes to domestic uses, US businesses are hamstrung because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) isn’t required to issue commercial drone rules until 2015. In the meantime, one of China’s biggest delivery companies is tinkering with using drones—with Chinese government permission.


SF Express is testing a drone it has built for delivering packages to remote areas, according to Chinese media reports. The drone can hit an maximum altitude of 100 meters (328 feet) and deliver parcels within two meters of its target.