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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Army research official visits Afghanistan

Cargo parachutes drop fuel to a combat outpost in Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2011. Army researchers are testing a quick release system to be fielded later this year.

Cargo parachutes drop fuel to a combat outpost in Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2011. Army researchers are testing a quick release system to be fielded later this year. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Maj. Matt DeLay)

 

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (June 25, 2012) — A senior research and development leader spoke with Army officials here June 11-13. Army leaders in the field are seeking technology solutions for complex challenges.

“The commanders have a need for low-cost quick release systems for airdrop bundles,” said Dr. Jack Obusek, Sc.D., U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center director. “A quick release system would prevent cargo from being swept out of friendly hands when parachutes get dragged on the ground in high wind conditions.”

Army researchers have been developing prototype quick release devices and has plans to provide a substantial number to U.S. troops in Afghanistan later this year.

“We’re looking to significantly accelerate this effort and checking whether our forward deployed research center or stateside prototype facilities can produce the prototypes,” he said.

Obusek also discussed a possible far forward medical aid capability package. The research center and the PM and the medical community have recently entered full production on a modular medical package that will provide near intensive care unit-like capabilities to Soldiers serving forward.

Obusek said he received positive feedback from Soldiers on the First Strike Ration and the Army Combat Shirt — two initiatives developed at Natick. He met with medical staff to discuss new materials for protective equipment and received many great ideas for future technology development.

Obusek leads an 800-person military and civilian workforce at NSRDEC, located in Natick, Mass. The center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command with the mission to maximize a Soldier’s survivability, sustainability, mobility and combat effectiveness.

This was Obusek’s first visit to Afghanistan since being named as the NSRDEC director in January 2011.

Popular Science: New smart parachute improves airdrop accuracy

Smart Tech Paraglides

FireFly in Flight Any airdrop system, like this 2,000-pound FireFly system manufactured by Airborne Systems in Pennsauken, NJ, can be outfitted with new control software developed by Draper Laboratory. U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center

Popular Science reports: “New algorithms allow a pallet to fly like a paraglider and land with supreme accuracy, according to the nonprofit research lab that designed them. Supply delivery is getting much more precise — within a few feet to a hundred yards of a target (the exact numbers are classified). What’s more, the same technology could improve disaster relief and humanitarian missions, and even lead to smarter, more independent UAVs.”

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