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Freedrop Packaging Concept Project

What is it?
The Freedrop Packaging Concept Project (FPCP) is one of several key Integrated Logistics Aerial Resupply (ILAR) delivery systems and one facet of Low-Cost, Low-Altitude (LCLA) aerial resupply that the Army is developing in synchronization with surface distribution operations to provide the combatant commander with alternative capabilities that he may require to meet operational requirements in the conduct of 21st Century full-spectrum operations. The FPCP, which is currently in development by the U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency (LIA), is a proof-of-concept effort to demonstrate that the unique capabilities of a freedrop packaging concept and system, if realized, can be exploited to provide additional sustainment support to the Soldier in the operational environments of the 21st Century. The freedrop method of aerial delivery requires an innovative packaging concept whereby supplies can be freedropped from very low altitudes and, because of the structural attributes of the package itself, land at the desired location with no damage and in a condition that facilitates recovery and distribution. A key objective of the FPCP is to develop a low-cost, energy-absorbing package (less than $100 per package) that can hold from 50 to 150 lbs of supplies and can be freedropped from an aircraft hovering or moving at 40 to 70 knots from an altitude of 50 to 75 feet.

Another key objective is to investigate new materials and manufacturing techniques to determine whether they can be used in lieu of, or as a possible replacement for, honeycomb material, which is currently used for airdrop operations. The FPCP has demonstrated through rigorous field testing and subsequent evaluation, that the project’s material, technologies, methodologies, and processes can protect the cargo better than honeycomb, with less cushioning material and at a lower cost.

What has the Army done?
To date, testing of the FPCP packaging material has been conducted from static heights and from aircraft flying at altitudes from 50 to 75 ft above ground level and 40 to 70 knots. The FPCP successfully conducted its fifth major test event in November 2008 at Aberdeen Test Center (ATC), Maryland. This event demonstrated that the FPCP sub-packs, constructed with both chevron and honeycomb material, could successfully be deployed from a moving aircraft and could minimize the negative impact on cargo survivability. Of the 50, 400 rounds of 5.56 mm ball ammunition that were freedropped during Event 5, 12,600 rounds (25 percent) were test fired by the ATC with no misfires.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
Based on the successful results of FPCP Event 5, the FPCP will now focus on the sub-pack design for the development of multi-commodity sub-packs. Design, development, and testing of the multi-commodity sub-packs will be conducted in calendar year 09. These tests will include active participation from the Program Manager for Force Sustainment Systems, Combined Arms Support Command, and the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, who have been identified as the FPCP operational partners. A detailed analysis of project testing results and project transition is expected in the June through August 2009 timeframe.

Why is this important to the Army?
The FPCP substantially contributes to the responsiveness, agility, effectiveness, efficiency, and interoperability of the Joint distribution and sustainment systems. While FPCP can be used effectively and efficiently to support any unit or force in the conduct of full- spectrum operations, they have particular applicability to Special Operations Forces, Army Brigade Combat Teams, and Marine Corps units; especially those operating in remote, hard-to-reach and austere operational environments with very limited logistics footprints or support enablers. Both efforts and capabilities support the Army G-4’s campaign objective of providing enhanced logistics readiness through the identification, demonstration, and transition of technology options that support both the Current Force and the Future Modular Force.

POC: Mr. N. Zello (717) 770-6330

 
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