By Lance Cpl. Jocelyn Ontiveros, 1st Marine Logistics Group
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines with 1st and 2nd Marine Logistics Group incorporated a GPS guided airdrop system training scenario into the Weapons and Training Instructor Course on March 30, 2017, at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. This was the first time this training was conducted during WTI.
The Joint Precision Airdrop System uses GPS and steerable parachutes to reach their targeted drop zones. Equipment and supplies can be air dropped using these specially rigged aerial delivery systems. The cargo is attached to a parachute with an electric motor that guides it within 150 meters of its destination. The speed and direction of the wind, along with the weight of the cargo are used to the plot coordinates of the targeted landing zone into the GPS.
“It’s a crucial support element for the Marine Corps that can be utilized to supply hard-to-reach areas,” said Staff Sgt. Mario Rodriguez, the light pack noncommissioned officer in charge with 1st Transportation Support Battalion, 1st MLG. “The system gets programmed to certain grid coordinates and it will guide itself to that designated point.”
Air drops are normally used when helicopter transports cannot be used because of range, closed lines of communication, a lack of adequate airfields, a prohibitive ground tactical situation, high tonnage or reduced response time. Due to its autonomous guidance, the JPADS will be able to deliver the supplies needed to forward-positioned Marines. When the JPADS hit the ground, the electric motors that control the parachute pull on the chute to collapse it. This prevents the system from being dragged by the wind.
“The most important aspects for this mission to be successful is communication and ensuring that joint air drop inspections are done correctly,” said Gunnery Sgt. William Ferrer, the air delivery chief, 2nd TSB, 2nd MLG.
With the JPADS, cargo can be dropped from up to 24,000 feet. This can ensure the safety of the crew as they may avoid danger zones during combat. Air delivery operations require detailed planning and integration at all levels and must support units in a rapidly-changing environment.
“It’s crucial that we have both units work together because it is a new system,” said Ferrer. “We have different knowledge in different areas and working together puts us on the same level.”