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A promising supply is under development. Essentially an unmanned cargo container, the is one of a number of related projects the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) is exploring as part of what the Corps’ calls “expeditionary advance base operations.”
According to thedrive.com, the basic idea is to create one or more systems that can get equipment and supplies to Marines ashore quickly and accurately, but at low cost and with reduced risks.
“MCWL intends to develop a resupply delivery system that will increase military utility and drastically reduce costs,” a fact sheet on the program at the Sea Air Space convention explained. “The system will be able to supply a Marine rifle squad with one day sustainment without telegraphing the squad’s position, and will be disposable.”
The Marine Corps is still finalizing the requirements, the plan is for a gliding that crews can either drop out the back of their KC-130 tanker/transports and then released it in mid-air.
Logistics teams will be able to quickly assemble the unmanned supply gliders from parts kits at land bases or at sea on board amphibious ships. The prototypes will have a structure made mostly of plywood and use a commercial GPS to guide them to their final destination, which should keep them cheap enough for Marines to discard in the field, MCWL representatives said. The final weight and launch parameters will ultimately determine the ’s maximum range, they added.
Another glider, similar in concept, is the Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Technology’s Snowgoose GPS-guided paramotor. Snowgoose offered significant advantages over traditional aerial resupply methods, even GPS-aided types like the U.S. military’s Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS). Able to travel up to 200 miles from the launch point, the paramotor was a discreet resupply method that didn’t require a large and loud cargo plane to fly into harm’s way in order to be deployed.
But while it’s cheaper to buy and operate compared to large cargo planes or helicopters, the Snowgoose is still relatively complicated and expensive to employ.
The fact that these gliders can make it into tight and very hostile spots without putting a helicopter crew at risk, or relying on more cumbersome parachute systems, is highly attractive. So, it might not be long before Marines in hot spots around the world are getting their emergency, or even daily supplies via a boxy glider .