Better Airdrop Accuracy and Delivery Tools Sought

Through numerous contingency operations over the last few years, Air Mobility Command airmen have come across some areas to improve—particularly in the many airdrop and relief operations they’ve been tasked with. One new concept under development is the so-called “hope package,” AMC’s Gen. Raymond Johns called it a small, ration-sized package containing six ounces of food or water—a product AMC is testing with Air Force Research Laboratory scientists today. It would float down on its own, and without the need for a drop zone or the potential of injuring persons with a heavy pallet, the possibilities open up for relief operations, he told the crowd at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Monday afternoon. For traditional airdrop operations, Johns noted, “we’ve been living off the goodness of Newton for a long time,” but improved accuracy continues to be something airmen are focused on. The Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) smart pallet is a great innovation, Johns said, but the technology could be made cheaper, and if so, could be used more frequently. Just like the ability to put a Joint Direct Attack Munition through a window, “I just want to deliver it to the front door,” Johns said of AMC’s pallets. One idea he noted would be taking old seeker heads off precision weapons, and using a steered power foil, guided by a JTAC on the ground, to its final destination. This way, accuracy would be improved and aircraft could fly at a higher altitude in high-risk environments.