The US Marine Corps War Fighting Laboratory (MCWL) this month started testing on a drone called the Tactical Air Delivery (TACAD) or simply, the Supply Glider. A TACAD prototype is currently on display in the Sea-Air-Space 2017 Trade Show Exhibition in Harbor, Maryland. The said throwaway drone and unmanned military supply container and was designed to deliver supplies and care packages to military personnel. Once rolled out by the US Marines, this breakthrough military innovation will reduce costs of supply delivery and plane surcharges. The cost of the said drones is expected to cost around $1,000 to $3000 which is cheaper compared to existing supply delivery systems.
TACAD Troops Supply Solution
This concept of remote supply does not only reduce costs but lessens the risk of soldiers going to a remote base to get supplies. The said drone uses Global Positioning System (GPS) to track the location of troops and go to a specific area where supplies are needed. The TACAD also has the capability to glide and keep out of danger. The existing military aerial delivery system called the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) which uses parachutes to carry supplies. The JPADS also uses GPS to get the exact location, but the disadvantage of the said system is that it just goes down. The TACAD was manufactured to have an effective range between 48 to 112 kilometers.
The TACAD is also the larger version of the Otherlab drone planes manufactured in San Francisco which are biodegradable drones used to carry supplies for up to two pounds in weight. To put into perspective, the TACAD can safely carry supplies for up to 700 pounds in weight and can handle up to 20 cubic feet of military supply cargo. According to Lt. Morgan Grossman of the US Marine Corps, “The TACAD can deliver supplies such as water, fuel, and food among many others and can withstand different weather conditions at a cheaper cost.
One major advantage of the TACAD over the JPADS is that it is easily disposable. According to the Sea Air Space 2017, the drones will just be made of plywood and disposable metal fasteners. The existing JPADS require that soldiers keep the parachute back to the base so that it will be refurbished and used, which may be a disadvantage to soldier units. The TACAD was specifically designed to be a throwaway drone where soldiers can just leave it anywhere once they have their needed supplies and packages.
The said drone units are still being planned, and test flights are expected to start in 2018. There are even plans from the US MCWL to create a bigger supply drone that will serve as a mothership for supply gliders. The larger aircraft will carry the smaller supply drones until it reaches a distance near the location where supplies are needed. The TACAD will then use GPS tracking to glide to a specific location where soldier units can go to safely. The military is also looking into the eventual possibility of utilizing the TACAD for other purposes other than delivering supplies to soldiers on the field.