|Starting in 2007, the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center’s (SSC) publication,
The Warrior, will be published electronically.
If you would like to continue to receive the Warrior, please send your email
address to: IMNE-SSC-PA@natick.army.mil and put Warrior Mailing as
Please include your regular (snail-mail) mailing address as well, so we can
cross-check our printed mailing list.
The Warrior will be available online at: http://www.natick.army.mil/about/pao/pubs/warrior/index.htm. It will also be available in a .pdf format for
those of you interested in printing a copy.
We hope you will continue to find The Warrior a good source of information
about the SSC.
Natick Soldier RD&E Center, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine join forces to win big awards
For the second year in a row, two tenant partners from the U.S. Army
Soldier Systems Center (SSC), the U.S. Army Research Institute
of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) and the Natick Soldier
Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), won a
Department of the Army Research and Development Laboratory of the
Year Collaboration Team Award at the 2006 U.S. Army Acquisition
Corps Award Ceremony.
|Soldier sample First Strike Ration (FSR).
Also, for the fifth time in the past six years, the NSRDEC won the
Department of the Army Research and Development Laboratory of
the Year Award for the Small Development Lab Category.
Claude M. Bolton Jr., assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition,
Logistics and Technology and Army acquisition executive, presented
the awards at the ceremony on Oct. 8 in Crystal City, Va.
“It is clear that we have the world’s best acquisition and logistics
workforce to keep our Army the most capable land force on earth,”
said Bolton during the ceremony.
The Collaboration Team Award was won for the joint efforts of
NSRDEC and USARIEM in developing the nutritionally-optimized
First Strike Ration (FSR). The FSR is a compact, eat-on-the-move
assault ration designed to be consumed during the first 72 hours
of intense conflict by forward deployed Warfighters. The FSR is
substantially reduced in weight and cube and enhances Warfighter
consumption, nutritional intake, and mobility.
“These collaborative efforts and early accomplishments from the FSR
Program are a perfect example of how a diverse group of talented
individuals and a shared vision can make an immediate and lasting
impact on a Warfighter’s health and performance in operational
environments,” said Col. Beau Freund, commander, USARIEM.
“USARIEM is absolutely delighted to be a part of the FSR team and
this important ration development.”
In both categories, a group of science and technology experts
assembled by the Army from industry and academia judged the
competition, ranking the results based on a written report and oral
Selection for the Research and Development Laboratory of the
Year Award is based on extensive evaluation of the organization’s
vision, strategy and business plans; strategic management of human
capital; competitive sourcing; improved financial performance;
use of expanded electronic government; budget and performance
integration; major management achievements; and major technical
“Working as a team, NSRDEC has achieved unmatched success
which is without question the hallmark of a dedicated, highly skilled
and enthusiastic workforce - something the Army clearly values,”
said Philip Brandler, director of NSRDEC.
NSRDEC, in their nomination package, presented a portable chemical
sterilizer for surgical instruments and biofunctional nanoporous
electrospun polymeric membranes as their most significant technical
The sterilizer allows for the sterilization of medical equipment in
austere environments without the need for electricity. Not only will
this assist the military, but its usage will benefit emergency first-
responders and disaster relief workers.
The membrane technology, while still being developed, will be
instrumental in protecting the safety of food supplies. The primary
benefit is its ability to concentrate food pathogens within the high
surface area sensor material and luminescing to indicate their
presence, accomplishing concentration and detection in the same
disposable, cost-effective, pathogen sensor element.
“I extend my thanks to everyone at the Natick Soldier Research,
Development and Engineering Center who has contributed so much
in making the NSRDEC the outstanding organization it is. Over the
years, all of our mission areas have been highlighted in the RDL
competition,” Brandler added.
“We serve a Nation at war and a military force that is transforming
while fighting and winning the global war on terrorism,” Bolton
said. “It is clear that we have charted the right course - increasing
capability, flexibility and sustainability - and that we must maintain
the tremendous momentum we have built.”
Back to Top
Notes from the Program Manager:
Future Force Warrior leaps ahead
By Carol Fitzgerald
Natick Soldier RD&E Center
Future Force Warrior Technology Program Office
As the Future Force Warrior
Demonstration (FFW ATD) enters
its final year our team has made
major strides towards our objectives,
proven through successful field
experimentation with Soldiers.
We are progressing towards
accomplishing our primary ATD
goal: integrating and demonstrating
advanced technologies into a
Soldier/Small Combat Unit
(SCU) system of systems that will
significantly enhance the combat
effectiveness of the SCU and will
be interoperable with the Future
Combat Systems (FCS) and the future force.
Recently, we participated in some Army-sponsored programs and
experimentation venues that for a few years have been developing
the future force network, to conduct our own FFW experimentation
and demonstrations. This opportunity has allowed us to have Soldiers
look at our many technologies, and answer the questions “Do these
technologies work?” and “How will the capabilities help me do my
job better?” We were also able to start evaluating how to distribute
the capabilities across the SCU.
This summer we participated in the U.S. Army Communications
Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s
(CERDEC) Command, Control, Communications, Computers,
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) On the Move
(OTM) at Fort Dix, N.J.
OTM is focused on the technical and engineering aspects of
establishing the future force network and making it work in a field
OTM provided us the ability to meet our Increment 1 top level goal
-- initial network interoperability, and integrating the Soldier/SCU into
the future force network for the first time -- three months early.
In November, we participated in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine
Command’s (TRADOC) Air Assault Expeditionary Force (AAEF)
Spiral C at Fort Benning, Ga.
AAEF is about exploring how the network enhances operational
AAEF/C provided a fantastic opportunity to experiment with Soldiers
in the field to get feedback on Soldier acceptability of the equipment
and to gain insights on the tactical utility of the FFW capabilities.
It also provided a venue to determine what system refinements are
necessary (and desired) for OTM 07 and AAEF/D—the events that
will culminate the FFW ATD next summer and fall.
Air Assault Expeditionary Force/Spiral C (AAEF/C)
We participated in AAEF/C with a squad of FFW-equipped Soldiers
within the experimental force (EXFOR) platoon, with Leaders and
Soldiers Command and Control (C2)-enabled. Combat veteran non-
commissioned officers (NCOs), who are members of the FFW team,
conducted training of the FFW EXFOR squad. They conducted both
operator training and individual and collective tactical training using
the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) our team developed
to employ the myriad FFW capabilities.
The prototypes we took to AAEF/C were based on all our previous
FFW work, coupled with key leveraged technologies, and included an
ergonomically designed advanced combat ensemble with stand-off,
integrated body armor/load bearing (the “chassis”), passive cooling
from the chassis stand-off coupled with a wicking combat shirt and
integrated electronics (e.g., the computer, navigation, power and
Personal Area Network (PAN).
The communications and networking integration was via a Wearable
Soldier Radio Terminal hosting the Soldier Radio Waveform version
2.1 (from CERDEC), which is one of the primary waveforms used
in the future force network.
The FFW Leader system also included mapping and situational
awareness software called FalconView (being used in theatre today)
and targeting software called BareBones (a spin-off of Air Force
software), viewed in a goggle-mounted “look down” display and
manipulated by the Soldier using system voice control.
A Battlefield Renewable Integrated Tactical Energy System (BRITES)
power manager allowed any power source to be used as input power to
the system. Some Soldiers had an FFW-modified XM-104 fire control
target engagement system and some had a Multi-Function Laser.
Soldier level situational awareness was via CERDEC’s C2 Mobile
Intelligent Net-Centric Computing System (C2MINCS) and provided
basic position/location and mapping functions appropriate to a
We also had memory joggers integrated in the Leader and Soldier
software systems for quick recall of complex and/or infrequently
Our FFW engineers on sight at Fort Benning also integrated the iRobot
PackBot with our system for use by a Robotics NCO.
The benefits of our participation in OTM and AAEF/C have been
Our three combat veteran NCOs, Sgt. 1st Class Rick Haddad, Staff
Sgt. Stephan Simmins and Sgt. Josh Deveraux, captured the capability
benefits of FFW as follows:
The Next Steps
A major program execution change was also recently
implemented because of the need for greater flexibility and return
on the investment of FFW program funds and to achieve greater
innovation through leverage of “best in class” technologies that
are being developed across DoD. The FFW Technology Program
Office is leading all technical development and integration for
the remainder of the program, with support from numerous
contractors to bring the FFW Increment 2 vision to fruition.
We are working on further capability enhancements beyond
the systems at AAEF/C and Experiment 1.1 including: precise
positioning system, low power flex display, headgear sensor
fusion, wireless Personal Area Network, wireless weapons
interface, unmanned ground vehicles and unattended ground
sensors (UGS) integration, enhanced computer and software
upgrades and rotary wing connectivity.
In addition, we are making progress in reducing size and weight
of key components: most notably the Panasonic Toughbook
surrogate we used this year for the Leader computer will be
replaced with a “hand-top” class computer, which is about one
quarter of the volume and weight of the Toughbook and at least
To conclude the ATD in 2007, we will equip a light infantry
platoon, approximately 35 Soldiers, with Increment 2 systems
at OTM 07 and AAEF/D to determine if we have met our ATD
exit criteria and to answer our essential elements of analysis—the
real input for Army decision makers about the value of FFW
As the early design phase of the Ground Soldier System (GSS),
FFW will transition to Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier/
Project Manager (PM) Soldier Warrior in the first quarter of fiscal
year 2008 for them to conduct the System Development and
Demonstration program and field GSS.
Upon conclusion of the ATD, we will undertake follow-on
science and technology efforts on capability enhancements at
the component level that can be inserted later into GSS and the
other Soldier as a System warrior programs such as Mounted
Soldier and Air Soldier.
“The reason FFW was so well received by the AAEF/C EXFOR
was because Soldiers recognized that we are trying to focus the
system’s battle management and situational awareness to meet
the needs of the members of the SCU by skill level, rather than
forcing on them something designed for Battalion and Company
level,” said Command Sgt. Maj. (retired) Sam Spears, FFW’s
senior operational advisor.
We are making outstanding technical progress, and in concert
with our team’s guiding principles, we are making great strides
in achieving high levels of Soldier acceptance and meaningful
SCU capabilities. We are poised to bring the FFW ATD to a
Back to Top
Feeding the individul warfighter
By Gerald Darsch, Director, CFD, NSRDEC
& Kathy Evangelos, Program Integrator, CFD, NSRDEC
The human need for food, clothing, and shelter has been understood
throughout the history of civilization. Providing for these very basic
yet essential needs for the Warfighter brings with it challenges and
constraints that many take for granted.
Within the U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), the science and
technology required to provide combat feeding systems, cutting edge
clothing and individual equipment, personnel and cargo airdrop, and
shelter on the battlefield for today’s 1.2 million Warfighters is the
mission of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and
Engineering Center (NSRDEC) in Natick, Mass.
As long as there are wars, there will be boots on the ground; and where
there are boots on the ground, there must be combat rations. Make no
mistake; the U.S. has the most lethal weapons platforms in the global
arsenal. The most flexible and adaptive member of that arsenal has
been and continues to be the American Warfighter. Without the effort
to bring fuel to that individual Warfighter, the military machine would
come to a grinding halt.
The research, development, testing and engineering of combat feeding
systems is the mission of the NSRDEC’s DoD Combat Feeding Program
(CFP). The NSRDEC is committed to providing revolutionary, state-of-
the-art science and engineering in the development of combat rations,
field food service equipment and total combat feeding systems.
That task is accomplished by more than 100 dedicated professionals
who specialize in the fields of food science, food engineering, chemistry,
microbiology, nutrition, nutritional biochemistry, behavioral science,
food packaging and materials science, electrical, chemical and
All joint service combat rations and Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force
food service equipment and systems are managed by the NSRDEC,
while science and technology for Army managed food service
equipment and systems is successfully transitioned to the Product
Manager Force Sustainment Systems. Numerous pieces of equipment
and systems have transitioned to the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps
over the last three years dramatically enhancing food service capability
and exceeding customer expectations.
The NSRDEC is responsible for the family of combat rations to
include individual, group, assault and special purpose rations. For the
purpose of this article, we will focus on the MRE or Meal, Ready-to-
Eat. Imagine for a moment, if you cooked a meal, stored it in a hot,
stifling warehouse, dropped it out of an airplane, dragged it through
the mud, left it out with bugs and vermin, and ate it – three years
later. What would happen? Nothing – if it were an MRE or “Meal,
A bit of MRE history
The MRE replaced the Meal, Combat Individual, which some still
refer to as the old “C-Ration,” beginning in 1980.
|A soldier adds water to his Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE). More than 6,000 Warfighers, Soldiers and Marines both, have contributed to the MRE improvement program since 1992.|
From its year of introduction to 1987, the MRE contained such
memorable items as: Ham and Chicken Loaf, Smoky Franks (aka
“the Five Fingers of Death”), Chicken a la King (or Chicken “a
la Death”) and the ever popular freeze dried pork, beef and potato
patties. In 1988, eight of the original 12 entrees were replaced with
entrees that were slightly more identifiable, to include spaghetti and
The MRE had the opportunity to go to war in Operation Desert Shield
and Desert Storm.
Unfortunately, the initial feedback on the acceptance of the MRE
wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t the four letter words we heard, but the
combination of 4-letter words! Gerry Darsch, then chief of the Ration
Systems Division, was called to the Pentagon. It was “suggested” by
the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin Powell,
that we explore how to “FIX IT!”
A Joint Services Operational Rations Forum (JSORF) was conceived
and its first meeting was held in 1991 with the objective of redesigning
the MRE. JSORF membership included a voting member from
each of the Services and the Defense Logistics Agency. The path
forward was clear; we needed to refocus our business philosophy
from the “Father Knows Best” mentality to one based on “Warfighter
Recommended, Warfighter Tested, Warfighter Approved.”
The commitment by Philip Brandler, then director of Food
Engineering, and now director, NSRDEC, Darsch and the
professional staff at NSRDEC to the Warfighter was to dramatically
improve the quality and variety of the MRE by insuring this standard
individual combat ration would not remain stagnant but would reflect
changes through component enhancements every year.
In order to execute this plan, industry was brought on board
immediately by involving the Research and Development Associates,
an organization comprised of commercial vendors who contribute
to the family of combat rations.
The plan was clear; the NSRDEC would lead the charge, survey
Warfighters in the field and identify what food items should go into
the MRE. From this data, MRE components would be obtained
from the commercial sector or developed at the NSRDEC by Judy
Aylward, senior food technologist and MRE Project Team Leader.
Prototype MRE’s would be assembled by the industry and include
those new items. Field test sites and Warfighter test units would be
locked in by the NSRDEC’s Operational Forces Interface Team
under the leadership of Max Biela. Two groups of Warfighters would
contribute to the field test. One group would consume the current
MRE as the control and the other would evaluate the new prototype
menus and components.
Surveys for the groups would be developed, collected and analyzed
under the watchful eye of one of the NSRDEC’s senior behavioral
scientists, Dr. Matt Kramer, of the Product Optimization and
Evaluation Team, and the data collected from the troops in the field
by a team of behavioral scientists, food technologists, and NSRDEC
volunteers. This entailed living with the Warfighter in the field for
up to ten days.
The results of the field test would be presented to the JSORF and the
most highly rated prototype entrees, starches, desserts, beverages,
candies and snacks would replace the least acceptable items in the
current MRE. These decisions would then be presented to the combat
ration industry to alert them of changes that will be made to the
MRE. Finally, the NSC, under the leadership of Ray Valvano, would
prepare and coordinate the necessary procurement documents and
forward them to the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia (DSCP) to
initiate procurement. From the moment a Warfighter recommends
a new MRE component to the time DSCP receives the documents
from the NSRDEC is less than 12 months!
|Jeffrey Dunn of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) questions Soldiers regarding their food preferences during a field evaluation in Yakima, Wash.|
This process began in 1991 with the first new components appearing
in the MRE in 1992 and continues today. From 1993 to 2006, over
165 new items have been included in the MRE.
Memorable moments in the MRE improvement program
1992................Hot sauce in every menu;
1993................The Flameless Ration Heater;
1994................Last year for freeze-dried fruit (too expensive);
1996................From 12 to 16 menus and nutritional labeling;
1997................From 16 to 20 menus and beef jerky;
1998................From 20 to 24 menus, to include 4 vegetarian;
1999-2006.......A wide variety of new entrees, starches, candies,
desserts, snacks, beverages;
2005................The hot beverage bag;
2006................The ergonomically designed drink pouch for dairy
In the past two years, 29 new items have been approved for the MRE
for 2007 and 2008. The field test with Warfighters to evaluate new
components and menus for the 2009 MRE took place in Yakima,
Wash., during October 2006. 23 new items have been assembled in
prototype menus. The feedback from these Warfighters will determine
what new items will go into the MRE in 2009.
Did you know that of the 12 original MRE entrees, the last one
removed was the Ham Slice – finally replaced by Chicken Tetrazzini
in 2000? And spaghetti and meat sauce still remains one of the
favorites through the years because it has been reformulated and
improved based on Warfighter expectations.
All in all, more than 6,000
and Marines both, have
contributed to the MRE
since 1992. As many of our
Warfighters have stated,
“you may never please
all of us, but you sure are
pleasing most of us.” NOTHING goes in or out of an MRE without
critical Warfighter input. Working closely as a team, we have now
produced the most customer driven, customer focused ration in the
history of DoD.
Darsch, now director of Combat Feeding, and Kathy Evangelos,
combat feeding program integrator, had the opportunity to travel to the
U.S. Army Central Command area of responsibility (AOR) in 2005 to
obtain direct feedback from our boots on the ground relative to MRE
improvements as well as feedback on two new ration concepts that
were being field tested in Iraq and Afghanistan. Information obtained
from Warfighters indicated that both the MRE improvements and two
new ration concepts were “on the mark.”
In addition, Sgt. 1st Class (retired) Mike Acheson, now a food
technologist on the Combat Feeding Team, volunteered for two 180
day deployments to Iraq. The first with the 101st Airborne Division
as they moved north into Iraq in 2003, and the second which ended
in May 2006. Acheson not only performed his expected duties but
served as a valuable conduit for Warfighter feedback on continuing
to enhance our family of combat rations.
Other members of the Combat Feeding Team who deployed in support
of Operation Iraqi Freedom included Chief Warrant Officer Steve
Moody and Sgt. 1st Class Celestine Burnette, both representing the
NSRDEC in an admirable fashion, as well as providing valuable
insight on advancing total asset visibility for tracking and monitoring
Class 1 and fine tuning the two new ration concepts, the First Strike
Ration (FSR) and Unitized Group Ration-Express (UGR-E).
The FSR is designed for the first on the ground, first to fight, highly
mobile warfighter, and the UGR-E is designed for remote locations
and small groups on the asymmetric battlefield. Both were undergoing
field testing in country. As a result of feedback obtained from
Warfighters, these two rations have now been approved and are on
an accelerated path to procurement in the first quarter of fiscal year
2007 and will be “Coming to a Theater Near You TM.”
Besides the MRE, the entire family of combat rations, and in
particular, the UGR “A” version and “Heat and Serve” undergoes
continuous improvement every year based on Warfighter feedback.
The FSR and UGR-E, after fielding, will also enter the improvement
programs to insure variety and the inclusion of science and technology
drop-ins to further enhance both rations.
Warfighters also contribute during the design and testing of
developmental items. New components and packaging as well
as individual equipment are evaluated by Warfighters to insure
functional and operational capability and true value on the battlefield.
Some science and technology advancements will be transparent to the
Warfighter while others will be more obvious as a result of improved
quality, increased variety, or the inclusion of new components in
In the not too distant future, rations will contain naturally occurring
constituents such as probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria such as
those found in yogurt, and, nutraceuticals, which are small nutritional
organic molecules. It is anticipated that these constituents will provide
improved nutrition, cognitive and physical performance enhancement
using novel nutrient delivery systems, e.g. buccal (between the
cheek and gum) delivery of nutrients based on scientifically proven
Rations will be packaged using polymeric films relying on
nanotechnology and contain enticing aroma emitting films. These
will enhance consumption as well as protect and maintain extended
shelf life to insure wholesomeness and safety. New food processing
methods such as high pressure processing, pulsed electric field, and
microwave sterilization will bring more variety and components with
higher quality than those processed today via thermostabilization.
Self heating packages, new package designs, as well as heating and
cooling technologies for rations and beverages will further enhance
combat feeding systems for the Warfighter.
Woven through all these improvements and new technologies is a
single and very simple common thread: feedback that constantly
seeks to increase the satisfaction of the Warfighter. Rest assured
the advancement of combat rations and combat feeding systems
will continue to be driven by revolutionary advances in science and
technology, many of which will be pioneered by the NSRDEC. The
NSRDEC’s Combat Feeding Team remains committed to insure our
world class Warfighters continue to be provided with world class
rations - from deep sea to deep space - to outlast and outperform
any adversary anywhere.
Back to Top
Joint precision airdrop takes flight
By Patty Welsh, Public Affairs Office
Delivering supplies to American troops is a lot easier now and
much more precise thanks in part to the airdrop team at the U.S.
Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering
The Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) allows aircrews
to drop loads from higher altitudes and farther away from the
intended ground impact point, and troops on the ground are now
able to receive and retrieve supplies more accurately. JPADS
allows for aircraft and aircrew to fly above most threat areas with
a variety of offset options yet still deploy a range of autonomous
decelerators to pre-planned ground impact points.
|A new Global Positioning System-guided Joint Precision Air Drop System bundle, known as Screamer 2K, floats to the ground after being dropped from the back of a C-130 Hercules over Afghanistan Aug. 31.|
The JPADS is a family of systems that includes self-guided cargo
parachute systems, mission planning and weather systems, and
military free-fall parachute systems. The primary navigation
sensor is a global positioning system (GPS).
JPADS is also taking on an important role with regard to logistics
distribution. With JPADS, aircrew can deliver supplies to troops
in very remote areas, including those not accessible by roads.
This reduces the need for Warfighters to leave a protected area
to retrieve supplies and reduces the number of ground vehicle
convoys that need to enter possibly dangerous areas. By limiting
these two areas, it also assists with avoidance of Improvised
Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Recently, JPADS systems have been used in Afghanistan with
tremendous success. NSRDEC sent two riggers to Afghanistan
as part of a Mobile Training Team (MTT) to train personnel to
use and rig two types of JPADS systems. This training was very
successful and riggers in theater are now rigging JPADS solo and
both the MTT and theater-located riggers are providing valuable
lessons learned and suggested improvements to NSRDEC for
future consideration and implementation.
“The recent success of JPADS is due to the dedication and
commitment to the program with excellent communication and
trust between the many different players,” said Richard Benney,
aerospace engineer and technical manager for JPADS.
The JPADS programs are an exceptional example of how
numerous services and organizations can team together to support
an immediate Warfighter need with numerous requirements and
many users’ requests for support and participation.
The JPADS team consists of players throughout the Department
of Defense (DoD), led primarily by the U.S. Army NSRDEC,
U.S. Army Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems (PM
FSS), Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Advanced Systems
and Concepts Office, U.S. Air Force (Air Mobility Command, Air
Mobility Warfare Center, Electronic Systems Center and Global
Mobility Wing), U.S. Joint Forces Command, U.S. Transportation
Command, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Special Operations Command,
and U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command.
The program also relies heavily on many other participants,
including industrial partners, users (weapons officers, loadmasters,
riggers, and maintenance personnel), military and civilian
mobile training teams and the test community from all military
“This balance takes considerable time and effort to maintain but
the benefits of working as a joint community have and continue to
be showing a significant return on investment for the Warfighter in
theater now and much more capability is anticipated to be provided
to theater in the near future,” continued Benney.
The cargo system of JPADS can deliver supplies, such as
ammunition, water and fuel, and falls into different weight
classes. JPADS-Extra Light has a 700 to 2,200 pound capacity,
while JPADS-Light has a 5,001-10,000 pound capacity and is the
primary system within the JPADS Advanced Concept Technology
Demonstration (ACTD) program. JPADS-Medium has up to a
30,000 pound capacity.
Joint Precision Air Drop System bundles fall out of the back of a C-130 Hercules
Aug. 25. The drop was made from almost 10,000 feet above sea level and was
calculated using up-to-the-minute wind data relayed from two small dropsondes
deployed 20 minutes earlier. The dropsondes calculate wind speed and relay the
information back to the aircraft, helping to calculate the correct drop point.|
Each weight class of the cargo system must be able to hit a pre-
planned GPS ground target within 50 meters (objective), be able
to be deployed from altitudes as high as 24,500 feet mean sea
level (threshold), and be able to be deployed from at least eight
kilometers horizontal offset from the ground target.
JPADS-XL is in the works to meet requirements that still
exist. The U.S. Army PM FSS released a request for proposals
for JPADS-XL in November 2006.
The JPADS Mission Planner (MP), which is used to
determine the best estimate of wind throughout the volume
of space that the airdrop systems will be traveling, is now and
will be compatible with all JPADS systems. The JPADS-MP
uses the wind estimate with decelerator system performance
characteristics to determine an optimum Computed Aerial
Release Point (CARP) for ballistic loads or a Launch
Acceptability Region (LAR) for JPADS systems. The MP
can update any number of JPADS systems with new weather
information and/or impact coordinates wirelessly from the
Once deployed from the aircraft, supplies are guided by
GPS (actuators controlling parachute steering lines/risers)
that direct them to the desired landing point. The MP has
also demonstrated significant increased accuracy of high
altitude ballistic fielded airdrop systems such as the Container
Delivery System (CDS), known as Improved CDS (ICDS)
when dropped with the JPADS-MP. The JPADS-MP is also
compatible with and being used to compute CARPs for
Military Free Fall (MFF) users. The system is also being
tested with a wireless linkage to helmet mounted MFF
Navigation Aids (NAVIADS) which provide steering cues
to MFF paratroopers.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) first used the JPADS-MP over
Afghanistan on July 29, 2006. Since then, numerous successful
high altitude ICDS airdrop operations have taken place. In
addition, with significant support from the Commander of the
USAF Air Mobility Command, JPADS-XL candidate systems
have been provided to Warfighters in Afghanistan and the first
JPADS-XL combat airdrops took place on Aug. 31, 2006.
The need for precision airdrop capabilities is growing around the
world due to the IED threat to ground troops and surface-to-air
threats to aircraft and aircrews. Precision Airdrop for Special
Operations has been chosen as one of 10 areas prioritized as a
NATO Defense Against Terrorism (DAT) effort. The purpose of
the DAT program is to develop new, cutting-edge technology
to protect troops and civilians from terrorist attacks. Precision
airdrop is the only DAT for which the United States is the lead
nation and the NSRDEC leads this NATO effort for the DoD. It is
desired in order to support the increasing deployments of NATO
troops at greater distances from their individual Nations.
“I’m very proud to be a part of the joint and ever-growing JPADS
team and want to thank everyone involved for their contributions
to date. Many of the systems being used in theater began and/or
matured through Natick Soldier Research, Development and
Engineering Center initiatives in the late 1990s. The program
has accelerated rapidly through joint teaming and exceptional
dedication and hard work from many players all committed to
supporting the Warfighter every day. Nothing feels better than to
see paper concepts pushed and matured into systems/reality and
demonstrated to a level where they can and are now making a
difference to our ultimate customer, the joint Warfighter,” Benney
As the Army transforms to the Future Combat System, JPADS
will provide the ‘just-in-time’ logistics needed. The intention is
to resupply troops anywhere in the world within 24 hours with
supplies from the United States.
The JPADS team is provided feedback directly from Warfighters
who have trained, rigged, flown JPADS missions, and recovered
JPADS loads in theater, said Benney. This feedback and data is
invaluable and our joint team is working together to ensure that
JPADS capabilities are available and continuously improving to
meet the Warfighters immediate and long-term aerial logistics
Back to Top