Defense News - United States
|Saturday, November 19, 2011, 08:39 PM|
|United States Army tests new water, fuel bladders for airdrop.|
United States Army paratroopers here completed two of three test drops Nov. 10 to certify a new water and fuel container system for airdrops in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Each drop of two Lifeliner container-unitized bulk equipment, or CUBEs, delivered hundreds of gallons of water safely to the ground under dual, 100-foot-wide parachutes from over 1,000 feet, according to the project lead, John Mahon of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center of Natick, Mass.
Engineers with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center of Natick, Mass., stand next to a test package of new water blivets while paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division land in the distance Nov. 10, 2011, at Camp MacKall, N.C. Airdrop certification will allow sustainment soldiers to resupply troops in the field with over 600 gallons of fuel or water in each two-blivet package.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)
A third drop scheduled for the same day was scratched due to mechanical issues aboard the aircraft, said Mahon.
The CUBE is 40 percent the cost of the current model, and when collapsed, can be handled by one person and stacked for storage.
Lifeliner container-unitized bulk equipment, or CUBE, systems developed for the transport and storage of water and fuel sit ready to be packaged by parachute riggers for a test airdrop Nov. 10, 2011, at Fort Bragg, N.C. Each polypropylene water blivet can hold several hundred
gallons of water or fuel.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
Lt. Col. Paul Narowski, senior logistician with 1BCT and commander of the 307th Brigade Support Battalion, said that validated airdrop-rigging procedures will ensure that, no matter where a force is on the battlefield, 400 gallons of fuel, water or unitized supplies can be delivered by surface, slingload or airdrop.
A pioneer of low-cost, low-altitude supply drop techniques in Afghanistan, Narowski sees the CUBE system as another relatively low-cost method of resupplying small bases.
"Use of the CUBE will support objectives to draw down forces and equipment in [Operation Enduring Freedom] by providing storage and distribution capability to the warfighter at a
greatly-reduced cost," he added.
The 11th Quartermaster heavy drop airdrop systems technician, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Terry Wright, said that because many of the civilian engineers were former riggers -- Mahon served 31 years -- working with them went particularly well.
Whereas a typical Army program from concept to operational tests can take 6-8 years, because the project was fast-tracked, operational testing was achieved in just over a year, Mahon said.
To date, 200 systems have already been fielded to deployed units with more on the way, he said. He hopes to certify the CUBE's airdrop capability and have a draft of airdrop procedures ready within the next 30-60 days.