New Airdrop System Tested

Members of the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, experimented with a new airdrop concept that’s designed to improve the accuracy and efficiency of airdrops. Under the Single Pass Air Drop, or SPAid, concept, a remotely piloted aircraft releases a “drop sonde” at a prescribed point near the drop zone to collect weather data for the approaching transport aircraft, according to Bagram’s March 24 release. During the March 18 experiment, the squadron’s C-130 successfully received the sonde data; no actual airdrop was attempted, states the release. Use of the sonde to help build the wind profile will help the aircrews “drop as accurately as possible,” said Capt. Andrew Standeford, 774th EAS precision air drop system operator. Dropping the sonde from a different platform means the transport airplane no longer has to make two passes over the drop zone, thereby decreasing its exposure to threats, according to the release. SPAid also allows for quicker delivery time. “The way we did it today took 40 minutes off the [normal] timeframe,” said SSgt. Robert Olson, a joint terminal attack controller with the 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron. Air Mobility Command sponsored the SPAid experiment.