Positioning for the Future ULW
Santa Ana,CA - 1 September, 2008
From the Joint Strike Fighter to Ultra Lightweights, whether the mission involves delivering supplies to remote regions like the mountains of Afghanistan or bringing humanitarian relief to dangerous regions, precision counts for getting the job done and getting it done as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible.
In a world of regional conflicts, military tactics and equipment must be constantly adjusted to support a changing battlefield, and a new generation of GPS-guided parachutes is changing the rules. Using gliding ram-air parachutes and GPS-guidance, parachutes can land a significant distance and altitude from their point of release.
Traditional cargo delivery systems require aircrews to fly at 1,000 feet or lower- within the range of small-arms fire-to be accurate. This increased cargo delivery capability allows separation distances that keep the deploying aircraft and crew safe and reduces the vulnerability of those on the ground receiving the supplies.
Air dropping supplies requires the ability to resupply a range of load sizes and weights. In the ultra-lightweight category (ULW), carrying low weights of 100 to 700 lbs., a revolutionary, commercial equipment delivery system is making its way to the battlefield. With more than 20 systems fielded around the world, this ULW system, dubbed "MicroFly," emphasizes ease of use and flexibility, and it is fully compatible with the current platforms.
The MicroFly requires no specialized training, and packing the canopy is identical to packing current canopies. Operating the unit requires little instruction to set the coordinates. MicroFly does not require a mission planner nor does it need windsondes to capture atmospheric readings before the actual airdrop is made. Its operation is so simple that it is just pushed out of the aircraft. Marines often joke about gear being "Marine proof"; this one works even if the operator forgets to turn the unit on- it turns itself on automatically after exit!
These are but a few items in a vast array of things being examined or fielded. The goal is to equip Marines with the best available technology and equipment. The pursuit of excellence continues each day.