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Getting supplies delivered to troops in remote areas is one of the logistics problems military forces confront. In many cases, it’s too dangerous to send an airplane or helicopter, so the military is always looking for new ways of carrying out such resupply missions.
An innovative solution could be a resupply aircraft flying right up to the edge of enemy air defenses and releasing supply drones that could fly the rest of the way on their own without placing human beings at risk.
A disposable low-cost cargo drone designed to enable aircraft to resupply fast-moving ground forces over greater distances has entered a new phase of flight testing. The LG-1K is meant to be released from fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter.
The drone will be compatible with MV-22 and CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, KC-130, C-130, and C-17 transports, and MH-60, UH-60, CH-53, and CH-47 helicopters.
The drone has demonstrated its ability to glide — in some cases autonomously — to a landing zone with GPS precision.
The plywood and aluminum drone is 10.4 feet long with a 23-foot wingspan and can carry up to 700 lb.s of supplies. Developed by Logistic Gliders under contract with DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, the drone is pushed out the back of an aircraft or released from a sling load. The wings are folded back during transport but pop out once the drone is airborne.
It can reach the speed of up to 135 knots and can be programmed to fly to specific waypoints to navigate around rough terrain. On approach to the target, it pops a parachute at 200 feet and comes in for a landing, according to popularmechanics.com.
The drone is designed to be cheap and expendable. While the gliding body itself is extremely low-tech, the drone also incorporates electronics and control systems that allow it to fly by remote control or autonomously to a set of preprogrammed GPS coordinates.
The drone could be used to support ground troops, delivering supplies to friendly columns patrolling miles from a forward operating base. It would also be useful against near-peer threats such as Russia or China with advanced air defenses.