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    Joint RPA experiment to improve airdrops

    Joint RPA experiment to improve airdrops

    Photo By Master Sgt. David Dobrydney | U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Adrian Steenbergh, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron...... read more read more

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - The 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron participated in a joint experiment March 18 that is expected to improve future airdrops.

    Spearheaded by Air Mobility Command, the experiment successfully tested the efficacy of the Single Pass Air Drop system.

    The test involved a remotely piloted aircraft taking off from a forward operating base and releasing a ‘drop sonde’ at a prescribed point. The data emitted by the sonde was then tracked by the C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft approaching the area.

    "SPAid is a fantastic capability and really gives mobility assets a tactical advantage,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Speidel, 774 EAS aircraft commander. “My crew's execution was flawless, and we were able to prove the tactical advantage of this system."

    While no cargo was actually dropped in this instance, the C-130 successfully received the data from the sonde, opening the door to further implementation of the technique.

    “It provides us the ability to get to what we strive for in this community which is ‘first pass success,’” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrew Standeford, 774th EAS precision air drop system operator.
    The sonde itself is a tool that has been used in previous airdrops, measuring meteorological effects as it descends and relaying that information back to the aircraft carrying the supplies.

    “The [limiting factor] when it comes to any airdrop is being able to build a wind profile, that allows us to drop as accurately as possible,” Standeford said.

    By using GPS and UHF frequencies to transmit the wind information directly, the sonde allows for more accurate drops than previous methods, which relied on calculations by a crew member.

    “We’ll compute a new release point for the actual bundles that we’re going to drop based on the real-time data,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Redenius, 774th EAS chief of tactics.

    Normally, the sonde is dropped by the same aircraft carrying the supplies, requiring two passes over the same area.

    “What SPAid will allow us to do is to send a [RPA], which the enemy is less likely to see, over the drop zone, release the drop sonde and retransmit that data to the C-130 that is inbound so we only have to make one pass over the drop zone,” Redenius said.

    This way, the larger aircraft and supplies have reduced exposure to enemy action, and shortened the time ground troops need to secure a drop zone.

    U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Olson, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron joint tactical air controller, added that since SPAid uses unmanned aircraft that are already in the area, the amount of time between when a ground unit requests resupply and actual delivery is greatly reduced.

    “The way we did it today took forty minutes off the [normal] timeframe,” Olsen estimated.

    On both ends of the supply chain, the use of SPAid is welcomed.

    “It’s going to be a huge step forward for how we operate in the future, both in theater and anywhere else,” said Standeford.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.18.2013
    Date Posted: 03.24.2013 03:17
    Story ID: 104011
    Location: AF
    Hometown: ALGONA, IA, US
    Hometown: AUSTIN, TX, US
    Hometown: CARROLL, OH, US
    Hometown: CLARKSVILLE, TN, US

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