In an attempt to discover advanced solutions to transport supplies for warfighters, the military and academia joined together and positively tested the use of drones delivering water and food to troops on land as well as at sea.
The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, in collaboration with the New Jersey Institute of Technology Unmanned Aviation Systems Test Site, carried out two unmanned aircraft systems research flights hosted by the Delaware River and Bay Authority from July 24th to 25th at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal in Cape May, New Jersey.
The research flights included two, one-mile flights to learn about the probable use of UAS to transport supplies to areas that may be unreachable by standard delivery options, such as a combat situation or during disaster relief efforts. The goal was to test the capability of the UAS to transport a 50-pound payload and produce flight data for research and analysis by NJUASTS.
The UAS, to begin with, conveyed a case of First Strike Rations and a case of bottled water from the terminal to a delivery point at the New Jersey Aquaculture Innovation Center to assess its land-to-land competencies. The following day, it conveyed the same load from the terminal to the fast response cutter USCGC Lawrence Lawson off the coast of Cape May to assess its land-to-sea-to-land competencies.
After two days of test flights, Nick McGinty, DLA Troop Support’s subsistence industrial base planning chief, confirmed that the mission was complete.
“I was absolutely ecstatic when the efforts and hard work were validated,” McGinty said. “I was amazed to see that the payload was delivered intact and ready for its intended use and the UAS returned to the launch site safely.”
According to Nicholas Faillace, the contracting officer for the project, DLA Troop Support is a part of reoccurring natural disaster relief efforts and contingency tasks. The drone test flight acted as the primary step in the agency’s attempts to test new capabilities.
This drone delivery proof of concept will pave the way for a future approach to deliver subsistence items to areas that would be obstructed due to some natural disaster.
Nicholas Faillace, Project Contracting Officer, DLA Troop Support
One of DLA Troop Support’s long-standing goals is discovering advanced supply chain solutions for warfighters supporting natural disasters, serving in harsh environments or aboard ships. The effective drone tests not only meet that standard, but may pave the way to future solutions.
DLA Troop Support is a chief subordinate command of the Defense Logistics Agency and is in charge for five supply chains that deliver the country’s military and government partners with: food and feeding equipment; medical materiel and pharmaceuticals; construction and equipment materiel; clothing and textile items; and industrial hardware consumable repair parts.
As the country’s combat logistics support agency, DLA handles the worldwide supply chain—from raw materials to end-user to disposition—for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, 10 combatant commands, Coast Guard, other federal agencies, and partner and allied countries.