Camp Pendleton, CA – U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command’s 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion conducted cargo unmanned logistics system (C-ULS) testing in conjunction with machine-gun sustainment training and the unit’s tactical readiness exercise (TRX) aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 6-11, 2017.
The training was designed to demonstrate the C-ULS’ capability to provide medical resupply by a forward unit. The support battalion tested Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle (JTARV), which is in the developmental phase, it is a lightweight autonomous vehicle which provides an aerial resupply capability for immediate support to operational units.
MARSOC selected 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion as its lead for C-ULS experimentations and is collaborating with Deputy Commandant Installations & Logistics, MARSOC’s 1st Marine Raider Battalion, and the U.S. Army’s Research and Development Command for the field tests.
The JTARV 10 and 50 platforms were field tested with multiple training events during the week with a culminating experiment supporting 1st MRSB’s TRX II and a Marine Special Operations Company (MSOC) at Case Springs, MCB Camp Pendleton.
The battalion’s goal was to find out how a C-ULS could be used to provide immediate autonomous resupply to a Marine special operations team. The experiments ranged from how to conduct inspections of the system, to rigging of planned cargo, and ensuring that the projected weights and balance matched the specified weight and balance needed to successfully maintain flight and distance. The culminating event incorporated the week’s research with the C-ULS by having it deliver medical supplies during night and day conditions to a compound approximately two kilometers away. The C-ULS was tested on its range of flight, altitude, load-bearing abilities, speed of travel and other various categories.
“The more we experiment with emerging C-ULS technologies, the better informed our understanding of what the technology might eventually do for us will be,” said Lt. Col. Richard M. Martin, the battalion commanding officer.
The feedback from the operational perspective of the MSOC will be used to further advance the development of the C-ULS to meet the needs of MARSOC.
“We believe autonomous resupply capability will be something that will give Marine Special Operations Forces (MARSOF) a distinct advantage on the battlefield,” said Martin. “Both current and anticipated operating environments in which MARSOF are deployed include a number of logistics sustainment challenges, from host nation infrastructure shortfalls to enemy forces or other threats denying critical terrain.”
The broad range of operations that the C-ULS has the potential to be used in could possibly save lives and expedite mission-essential needs.
According to Martin, one of the prevailing attractions to an unmanned system is putting troops and people out of harm’s way. By transporting cargo via airlift rather than a convoy limits the warfighter’s risk of roadside improvised explosive devices, hostile fire and the lengthy time of resupply. To help mitigate risks, MARSOC is looking into the scalability, flexibility and responsiveness of the technology, and are continuing to examine C-ULS capabilities for their utility in overcoming sustainment challenges inherent in the austere deployed environments in which MARSOF find themselves.
“Those are the sorts of things that are being examined when we put emerging C-ULS technology to the test during our experiments,” said Martin. “UAS platforms, particularly logistics variants, present the potential to overcome those challenges more predictably and ensure that we’re able to get our forces the support they need.”