May 09, 2017

Disposable Drones Could Deliver Supplies Under Enemy Fire

Source: Wired

Journalist: Jeremy Hsu

Gliders offer many advantages on the battlefield, not the least of which are low cost and silent operation—two things the military loves. That explains their prevalence during World War II, when the Allies used them to land troops and material. Gliders fell out of fashion, but the Pentagon might bring them back to hotspots around the world, with a few high-tech modifications.

The US Marine Corps is testing disposable autonomous gliders that could deliver supplies to troops in enemy territory, or provide support to amphibious forces assaulting beaches far from resupply ships. This marriage of glider technology with advanced guidance and control systems turns cargo boxes into flying trucks, capable of carrying 1,600 pounds of supplies to drop zones up to 74 nautical miles away. That kind of range means larger aircraft can deploy the gilder drones far from the battlefield—and help avoid the risk of enemy fire.

“Rather than fly a bunch of helicopters around and needing to stop and unload, here you could just have a cargo plane dump a couple gliders off the back and hit a couple locations,” says Paul Scharre, project director for the 20YY Warfare Initiative at the Center for a New American Security. “It might allow for faster dispersed resupply in more hostile environments.”

Read the full article at Wired.


  • Paul Scharre

    Executive Vice President and Director of Studies

    Paul Scharre is the Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at CNAS. He is the award-winning author of Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence...