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Airdrop System Resupplies Ground Troops
The Joint Precision Airdrop System provides safe, rapid and accurate high-altitude
delivery of needed supplies and equipment to warriors on the ground.
By Laura McGowan / Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, Aug. 16, 2006 – Managed by Aeronautical Systems Center, the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) is a promising concept that provides a safe, rapid and accurate high-altitude delivery system to resupply warriors on the ground with needed supplies and equipment.

Utilizing a steerable canopy, electro-mechanical steering actuators, an airborne guidance unit and mission-planning hardware and software, JPADS provides a feasible delivery system that protects ground troops, aircraft, aircrew and supplies more effectively.

“Air Mobility Command is continually looking at new ways to improve our mobility operations to deliver better combat capability to the warfighter,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Quentin Peterson, director of operations at Air Mobility Command.

“JPADS is one system we’re developing that will provide precision delivery capability to deployed combat forces,” he noted.

"Air Mobility Command is continually looking at new ways to improve our mobility operations to deliver better combat capability to the warfighter."

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Quentin Peterson

In support of this effort, Aeronautical Systems Center’s 516th Aeronautical Systems Wing, which manages acquisition for mobility systems, plays a key role in helping AMC achieve that goal.

“Aeronautical Systems Center has been involved with JPADS for the past three years, acting in a program management and engineering support role,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Heinle, capabilities planning chief with the 516th AESW.

He said in order for JPADS to alleviate the risk of ground troops being exposed to improvised explosive devices in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, “the accuracy goal is to be able to put a load into a drop zone the size of a soccer field from 25,000 feet.”

JPADS can help minimize the vulnerabilities that those involved in resupply efforts face. 

“The vulnerabilities we are most concerned with are the safety of our aircrews, convoys and troops on the ground in contact with terrorists,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Stiles, vice commander of the Air Mobility Warfare Center at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.

“JPADS, when mature, will be an avenue to provide precision delivery of needed supplies directly to ground forces from altitudes above many of the threats, keeping our aircrews safer,” he explained. “The accuracy that JPADS brings will potentially enable us to deliver supplies to locations that currently require surface transportation.”

“This precision direct delivery will reduce the risk to convoys and other ground forces, increase the velocity of our supply chain, and at the same time, relieve some of the traffic to our forward operating bases and hubs, positively impacting our ability to prosecute the Global War on Terrorism,” Stiles emphasized.

“Logistics must be fought as combat operations in order to negotiate the operational distances and to defeat an adaptive and determined enemy that targets sustainment convoys,” Retired Army Brig. Gen. Scott West said in a Quartermaster commentary.

See Caption.
A 10,000-pound payload dropped from a C-130 at 25,000 feet over Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, is guided by the Joint Precision Airdrop System. JPADS provides safe/accurate high altitude delivery to ground troops, while also protecting the aircraft, aircrew and the supplies. U.S. Air Force courtesy photo

“As a result, in my opinion, logisticians are at greater risk on this Iraqi battlefield than are combat forces,” he pointed out. “One particular day we put 122 convoys on the road throughout the battle space."

Of the 122 convoys, 122 of them were shot up by improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, small arms fire and mortars; 100 percent of our convoys were engaged in mortal combat," West continued.

“In October 2003, this high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle protection was only a concept,” he said. “We went from nothing to 9,000 armor ballistic kits in 10 months.”

“In the area of precision aerial delivery, we completed the third of three very successful resupply operations using JPADS in July 2004, and the time between issuing the operational needs statement and having the materiel solution on the ground, or in the air in the JPADS case, was 75 days,” West noted. “These are phenomenal responses to critical battlefield sustainment needs.”

“The Army and Air Force have partnered on JPADS since 1997 with an outstanding working relationship,” Stiles said. “The Air Force is responsible for the mission planning computer and wind collection while the Army is responsible for the guidance unit and decelerators.”

“The synergy of the close relationship has allowed the JPADS community to quickly mature this capability to a point of rapidly fielding the JPADS-XL (2,200 lb.) version,” he emphasized.

According to program officials, JPADS will better enable forces in “preparing for and participating in the joint fight – anywhere, anytime; developing, maintaining and sustaining the warfighter edge; and taking care of our people by whatever means necessary.”

“JPADS technology brings increased airdrop accuracy and survivability for both the aircrews and the ground forces,” Peterson said. “It will allow us to accurately deliver supplies directly to the ground forces that need them, exactly where they need them, when they need them.”

“This capability is a quantum step forward in the evolution of precision mobility operations,” he concluded.
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