By Kalwinder Kaur
The U.S. armed forces’ sealift, airlift, communication, and medical evacuation and care capabilities can support lead relief agencies to efficiently carry out relief operations during natural or man-made disasters.
DARPA's New sea and air delivery systems
Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations are one of the 21st Century defense’s major missions included within the Department of Defense’s 2012 strategic guidance document.
Innovative technologies have been successfully created as part of DARPA’s Tactically Expandable Maritime Platform (TEMP) program that will help convert commercial container ships into self-contained floating supply bases at the time of while disaster relief operations, which require no port infrastructure. This program involves envisaging a container ship anchoring offshore a disaster area, and the supplies being made ashore by the ship’s crew, based on DARPA-made, modular on-board cranes and air- and sea-delivery vehicles.
Phase I of the program has been recently achieved by DARPA. It includes developing four key modular systems that are transportable based on standard 20-foot or 40-foot commercial shipping containers. The four major elements are described below:
- Core support modules: These container-sized units ensure the augmented crew on board the container ship with berthing, water, electrical power, and other life-support needs.
- Motion-stabilized cranes are modular on-board cranes that enable transportation of sea-based cargo containers from the ship deck to a sea-delivery vehicle.
- Sea-delivery vehicles such as tank tread-designed Captive Air Amphibious Transporters (CAAT) include air-filled pontoons that allow transportation of containers directly onto shore and over water.
- Parafoil unmanned air-delivery system is an affordable, propeller-driven air vehicle, based on parachute for lift and quick transportation of supplies from the container ship to the affected areas on shore.