WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio, Oct. 18, 2006 – Many geographic regions, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where Coalition Forces serve today are remote, mountainous and littered with potential enemy combatants.
Getting supplies to friendly troops in these areas is challenging at best, and often requires convoy movements across vast distances—sometimes on treacherous roads laden with improvised explosive devices.
However, some of those dangers are increasingly being minimized thanks to advancements associated with the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS.
JPADS is a parachute-based system currently in the concept-development phase that features GPS-guided steering mechanisms that direct the unit's rectangular parafoil to a desired point of impact.
The system allows cargo planes to more precisely deliver loads of supplies like ammunition, fuel, food and water precisely in most weather conditions and in a cost-effective manner from altitudes outside of the range of enemy fire.
Previously, aerial delivery primarily consisted of re-supply aircraft flying into remote or dangerous locations at altitudes of just a few hundred feet above the ground.
With JPADS, cargo planes can perform airdrop missions from a standoff distance of several miles and at heights in the tens of thousands of feet.
Testing of the high-altitude precision airdrop system took place at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 11-15 when C-130 crews from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minn., flew missions at more than 17,000 feet, dropping 2,000- and 10,000-pound GPS-guided pallets.
“We’re working on fielding an interim solution for the JPADS 2,000-pound system, then using what we learn here for a long-term solution (to use with larger, heavier loads),” said Army Maj. Paul Hopkins, assistant project manager for cargo aerial delivery at the U.S. Army PM-Force Sustainment Systems in Natick, Mass.
“The war on terror has given us a lot of great lessons learned and we’re getting a lot of great feedback about JPADS from the field,” he noted.
The jointly-developed 2,000-pound “Screamer” (so named because it falls at 100 mph) JPADS system was used in Afghanistan in August, even though it was still developmental.
“The system did exactly what it was designed for and delivered ammunition and water to ground troops here,” said Maj. Neil Richardson, chief of the combat programs and policy branch at Air Mobility Command.
JPADS is actually a system of systems consisting of a decelerator system tied to a container delivery system that interfaces with all cargo aircraft.