Marines look at unmanned wooden glider for delivering supplies
...Here is how it is launched:
My personal favorite is the big wooden box with wings. In essence, it’s an unmanned update of the wood-and-canvas gliders used by airborne troops in World War II. Formally known as RAIN, for Revolutionary Airlift Innovation, it’s basically a cargo crate that delivers itself (once). You can fill the box with almost a ton of cargo (1,600 lbs), load it on a transport aircraft — CH-53 helicopter, MV-22 tiltrotor, or KC-135 turboprop — and kick it out the back in flight. Then the wings pop out, turning the box into a glider, and a computer brain guides it to its destination, up to 75 miles away. Even if you’re resupplying a unit in a city, no worries. The glider can pop a parachute to land between the buildings.
It’s crude, it’s ugly — and it’s brilliant. The entire prototype cost $600, manufacturer Logistics Gliders Inc. says, “less than 1/3 of the cost of nylon used in today’s cargo parafoils,” which can’t deliver cargo 75 miles away from the aircraft that dropped them. The RAIN glider would make it much easier to deliver supplies to widely dispersed units, which is how the Marines and Army expect they’ll have to fight on future battlefields to avoid being targeted for precision strikes. They also expect enemies with advanced anti-aircraft missiles to keep US air support away: That rules out conventional airdrops, but not necessarily releasing a glider 75 miles out. The manned aircraft can turn back to safety, while the glider — with no engine and almost no metal parts — slips in undetected. If the glider is shot down? Well, we’re out some supplies, but no one died.
This is an interesting innovation that would thwart enemy attempts to take out a convoy delivering supplies to a remote location. It would save lives and get the goods to the Marines.