SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. – During Project Convergence 22 experimentation in mid-October, All-Service military members and Multinational partners gathered on a small island off the coast of California to work on distributed sustainment over extended distances in a maritime environment.
One of the sustainment capabilities being experimented with was the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS), which uses an MC-4 canopy parachute system to conduct sustainment airdrops. The JPADS uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) to steer cargo to a waypoint after deploying a parachute. The newest updates to JPADS improves the military’s ability to locate the system’s position in space and time while reducing dependency on GPS.
Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Norris, drop zone safety team leader with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Soldier Center, said the system allows commanders to have another sustainment alternative when in remote areas.
“It is an insertion technique for commanders. They can set the drop altitude and location all from the intended target,” Norris said.
AeroVironment’s Jump 20 Group 3 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Northrop Grumman’s Hatchet precision strike weapon, and Hood Technology’s 11EOIR5 sensor system were other emerging technology being experimented with at San Clemente Island during Project Convergence 22. These technologies communicated via an integrated network, which allowed laser and sensor designators to enable the UAS to laser guide the Hatchet ammunition onto the target.
The Jump 20 Group 3 UAS System is being experimented with as a piece of equipment assigned to the unit level, allowing lower echelons to own and operate their own UAS capabilities. Not only does the aircraft have all of its own sensors built into the platform, but it also has the ability to carry weaponry.
The Jump 20 can hold multiple Hatchet rounds while flying, explained Grant McCall, project manager for Northrop Grumman’s Hatchet system.
“Being small is an advantage, and what we have been able to do at Northrop Grumman is make the hatchet lethality very effective with tungsten-preformed fragments," McCall said. "So you now have that kind of lethality on [a unit’s] organic asset."
All pieces of equipment are modular across several different platforms, meaning that none of the individual capabilities are tied to one specific platform
“It is all individual and independent, but linked together, meaning we know how to interface with each one. We have been building these partnerships,” McCall said.
Project Convergence 22 experiments with how emerging technology can be used by All-Service and Multinational forces to prepare for future combat operations. The UAS and JPADS experiments were just two of the several hundred capabilities that are being tested during the event across the Western United States.