Army researchers seek better airdrops

A Caterpillar 924H Wheel Loader -- a multifunctional, front-end bucket loader used in the construction of airfields, roads, and defensive berms -- is prepared on a pallet for aircraft roller load testing to simulate a heavy cargo airdrop, at the Roller Load Test Facility at Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Sisto

A Caterpillar 924H Wheel Loader — a multifunctional, front-end bucket loader used in the construction of airfields, roads, and defensive berms — is prepared on a pallet for aircraft roller load testing to simulate a heavy cargo airdrop, at the Roller Load Test Facility at Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Sisto

NATICK, Mass. (Sept. 9, 2013) — Among the many testing capabilities housed at the Natick Soldier Systems Center, the Roller Load Test Facility offers the unique ability to simulate the roller and rail systems used in aircraft to deliver cargo airdrops — all while still on the ground.

Recently, engineers at the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center used this facility to collect data samples taken during simulated roller load testing in an effort to develop the airdrop requirements of the Caterpillar 924H Wheel Loader — a multifunctional, front-end bucket loader used in the construction of airfields, roads, defensive berms, and demolition on the battlefield.

The facility allows engineers to see the force exerted on the rollers that move a cargo payload out of an aircraft during delivery. By recording and analyzing this force, engineers can identify the stressors placed on the rollers and determine if they meet the requirements to perform an airdrop of certain equipment payloads from various aircraft models.

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