By Dani JohnsonApril 9, 2019
FORT LEE, Va. -- During a firefight the last thing that should be of concern is whether the Soldier or Marine can be resupplied with enough ammunition, water, and medical supplies expeditiously.
The Army Futures Command Sustainment Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate (CDID) along with the Marine Corps Capabilities Development & Integration (CD&I) are looking at innovative ways to resupply Soldiers and Marines when traditional resupply methods are not available to support them. Both agencies are collaborating in writing, staffing and gaining approval of the Joint Tactical Autonomous Aerial Resupply System (JTAARS) Capabilities Development Document (CDD) in the next three years.
The JTAARS Industry Data Exchange Day event was held March 26 - 28 at Fort Lee, Virginia, to begin the dialogue between the military capability developers and industry UAS partners to determine what is in the realm of possibilities for future multi-domain operations resupply missions.
"The whole purpose of the industry day was for us to inform the industry partners on how each service plans to use this capability by educating them on the concept of operations. Plus allow industry, early on, to view each service draft operational requirements in terms of payload, range, speed, and operational environments," said Maj. Harry Terzic, Sustainment CDID Air Team officer in charge, Requirements Development and Integration Branch. "We are going to get industry feedback by meeting with each one of the vendors one on one and see what they can provide in terms of short, mid, long term Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) capabilities."
Both services envision this capability as a three platform family. At the Department of Defense level this family is being named Unmanned Logistics System- Air (ULS-A). Currently, there will be a Small, Medium, and Large with respective payloads. JTAARS is the ULS-A Medium effort between the Army and Marines.
"We envision JTAARS to be less than a ULS-A Large which means JTAARS should not require a dedicated pilot/supervisor/handler," said Terzic. "We envision JTAARS to be able to fly on its own from origin point to delivery point. We also envision man on the loop interruption of that mission if necessary."
The joint requirements team is working towards an organic delivery system that augments existing logistics platforms within tactical level Army and Marine Corps sustainment units.
Operations tempo in future large-scale ground combat operations is extremely high according to Terzic. JTAARS will enable tactical support units to provide a multiple times a day resupply capability regardless of terrain, weather or other operational limiting factors.
Additionally, "a routine resupply mission can turn into an emergency resupply mission at any given time," said Terzic. "So this system will be extremely beneficial to the ground commander."
"It has been proven that lightening the load of the infantry Soldier or Marine increases their effectiveness," said Master Gunnery Sgt. Chris Anson, Headquarters Marine Corps Logistics. "JTAARS will allow small unit resupply especially in dirty, hot areas taking fire."
"It is important for distributed operations since logistics is stretched thin as it is," said Anson. "As we look at the future and distributed operations at the mass level, we need those connectors and it also provides tactical flexibility to the commander to do what he or she sees fit with an air vehicle."
Over the next two years, both the AFC Sustainment CDID and the Marine Corps CD&I are participating in the ULS-A Secretary of Defense-sponsored Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD). The JCTD will assist the Marines in their development of the ULS-A Small CDD; and assist both the US Army and Marine Corps in the development of the ULS-A Medium (JTAAARS) CDD operational requirements. Industry Day gave both service capability developers insight on how to articulate the operational requirements for the medium-sized UAS system.