classes of Joint Precision Airdrop System systems are planned
for fielding in the near future. These include the JPADS-L (Light),
supporting cargo loads of up to 10,000 lb. rigged weight capability.
In 2006 precision air-drops of 6,000 to 10,000 lbs (2.7 –
4.5 ton) guided cargo pallets was demonstrated by the joint
military utility assessments (JMUA) at Yuma Proving Ground in
Yuma, Ariz., delivering simultaneous drops of two to three loads
to separate drop zones. According to Army Lt. Col. Ralph Saunders,
operational manager for the JPADS ACTD, the final assessment
of this class of JPADS systems is scheduled for May 2007 followed
by induction of such systems into the current forces. Several
systems are considered for the JPADS-L role. Firefly and Dragonfly
parachute systems developed by Para-Flite, a member of the Airborne
Group, are capable of precision delivery of payloads up to 10,000
lb (4.5 ton) from altitudes up to 25,000 ft.
program is also expected to examine systems capable of accurately
delivering weight bundles smaller and lighter than the 'XL'
class. Currently there is no JPADS classification for systems
under 500 lbs. but, according to Rick Zaccari, Vice President,
Business Development at Atair, there are indications from military
tacticians that 100 to 500 lbs precision airdrop systems will
be a critical JPADS weight class, specifically for the resupply
of small deployments of Special Forces and other advance ground
forces. Atair is already offering Onyx
systems capable of delivering 500 and 20 lbs payloads.
Follow-on developments are pursuing larger payloads. The JPADS-M
(Medium) will enable air delivery of medium weight loads (up
to 30,000 lbs / 13.6 ton), enabling high volume re-supply of
fuel and ammunition - capability gap identified by the Army.
JPADS-M will also enhance the potential strategic deployment
airdrop capability to overcome the maximum-on-ground (MOG) limitations,
such as high volume supplies and combat equipment. These loads
will be configured for ground handling by the Palletized Load
System and Load Handling System (PLS/LHS), as well as the related,
emerging technology program Smart Distribution – Modular
Intermodal Platform (MIP). A medium weight precision offset
airdrop capability will provide the required "never-too-late"
supply and distribution capability that the widely dispersed
combat teams of the Future Force will require in the first days
of a conflict, enabling them to increase their operational agility.
In addition, it will increase strategic deployability, while
decreasing detectability and vulnerability of the delivery aircraft
Simply scaling up existing technology will not be possible.
According to JC Berland, President of Para-Flite, the 30,000
lbs program will require a completely new approach to ram
air canopy deployment and control. Joint Precision Airdrop Systems
allow autonomous delivery of cargo from high altitudes and significant
standoff. Para-Flite’s current systems are capable of
deployments to 25,000 ft in altitude and horizontal separations
of over 30 km. This separation increases safety for aircrews
and enhances the security of forces on the ground. The largest
system called MegaFly can carry up to 30,000 lbs.
In the future, JPADS program will encompass an even heavier
class, supporting rigged weights of up to 60,000 pounds, enabling
the delivery of medium weight combat vehicles such as the Stryker
and some of the FCS type vehicles.
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