MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Combat Development and Integration recently demonstrated an innovative method to transport combat supplies with the Tactical Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System at the semi-annual Installations and Logistics Board held here.
On March 29 and 30, senior Marine Corps leaders and logisticians attending the ILB observed the TRUAS, a large, drone-like aircraft, carry a payload over a short distance, drop it at a specified location, and return to the starting point. According to Master Sgt. Chris Genualdi, an airborne and air delivery specialist with Combat Development and Integration the concept of using a drone to transport supplies may sound simple, but the implications could have a significant impact on combat supply transportation.
“TRUAS is designed to provide rapid and assured, highly automated aerial distribution to small units operating in contested environments; thereby enabling flexible and rapid emergency resupply, routine distribution, and a constant push and pull of material in order to ensure a constant state of supply availability,” Genualdi explained.
Unlike some other drones, the TRUAS is highly automated and not manually flown. Instead, it uses waypoint navigation for mission planning, which uses programmed coordinates to direct the aircraft’s flight pattern. Genualdi says that the simplicity of operating the TRUAS is such that a Marine with no experience with unmanned aircraft systems can be trained to operate and conduct field level maintenance on it in just five training days.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Kayla M. LeClaire
The Tactical Resupply Unmanned Aircraft Systemflies during a demonstration at DZ Cockatoo on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, March 29, 2023. Combat Development and Integration demonstrated the TRUAS, programming the Unmanned Logistics Systems-Air to carry a payload over a short distance, drop it at a specified location in the landing zone and return to its staring point. The TRUAS has a 9-mile range and maximum payload of 150 pounds, which is sufficient to fly in ammunition, food, medical supplies, and batteries, among other supplies. This small system only requires two Marines to operate and will be a game-changing capability for our distributed forces. Fielding this capability is a critical step in setting conditions for the development of the ULS-A Medium system, which is the required capability for large-scale tactical distribution in a contested space.
According to Genualdi, this capability allows for efficient tactical resupply missions for Marines in combat. The TRUAS which only needs two Marines to operate, is capable of carrying a 150-pound payload of supplies like batteries, medical supplies, food, and ammunition over a 9-mile range.
When commenting on the demonstration, Genualdi thought it went well. “It was a very successful evolution,” he said “and many people who have heard of TRUAS were able to see it in person.”
According to Genualdi, the Marine Corps plans to create a Military Occupational Specialty for (Small Unmanned Logistics System – Air Specialist) in which commanders can send their Marines to their local Training and Logistics Support Activity to be trained on TRUAS.
The utility of the TRUAS reaches beyond combat. Genualdi foresees its capabilities being highly effective in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts. In disaster areas that may not be accessible by conventional means, the TRUAS could be used to transport much needed supplies.
He also believes this is an innovation that will affect more than small scale resupply missions and its success at this level will allow this technology to be scaled to larger platforms that will be critical in the strategic execution of Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.
Genualdi says the TRUAS is expected to reach Initial Operating Capacity later this fall.
“It’s exciting to be part of the team providing future logistics capabilities to the future operating force,” Genualdi says.