Reserve crew assists in airdrop test
By Capt Jody L. Ritchie, 302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 23, 2009
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- A C-130 aircrew from here tested an airdrop concept that may one day help war fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq know the exact location and content of cargo.
Reservists from Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing flew the test for the U.S. Air Force Academy's Institute for Information Technology Applications. They dropped the test cargo Sept. 24 onto the Airburst range at Fort Carson, Colo. Data from the drop will serve as a real-world tool to forward information on cargo inventories to deployed forces and command and control elements over a unified common operational picture.
The Airdrop Enhanced Logistics Visibility System combines existing Blue Force Tracker capabilities with automated information and geospatial technologies. AELVIS gives the exact location of an air-dropped container delivery system and its inventory within minutes of the load leaving the plane. This technology can also be applied to heavy equipment airdrops, such as vehicles.
During the airdrop, a recovery team about 1,000 yards from the drop zone identified the exact GPS coordinates of two separate cargo delivery systems dropped during a joint precision airdrop system training mission. The team was also able to determine the contents of each CDS immediately after the loads landed.
At the Air Force Academy, 39 miles north of the drop zone, people in a simulated operations center observed the drop and received CDS information at the same time as the recovery team. They were also able to gauge the effectiveness of the drop by using a scoring application developed by contractors working with the academy's IITA.
"This project addresses the 'last tactical mile' in airdrop operations," said Lt. Col. Patrick Ryan, project officer for AELVIS and a C-130 navigator in the 302nd AW. "With this system, we're providing instantaneous airdrop information to multiple stakeholders. For example, ground commanders at the drop zone can prioritize the recovery of CDS's after an airdrop using our integrated inventory data viewer with the click of a mouse while operations and support personnel thousands of miles away can accurately score each CDS bundle in reference to the point of impact.
"FedEx determined a long time ago information about a package can be more important than the package itself," Colonel Ryan said. "We believe in this philosophy and are determined to provide this capability to war fighters, even if it's one CDS at a time." (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)