Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 25 worked as operators for the Drone 3 HOVERBIKE during a capabilities demonstration at Landing Zone Falcon, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune June 23.
This demonstration was the first for many of the involved organizations members to see the real capabilities of the drone. Attendees of the event included members from organizations such as the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center, Marine Corps War Fighting Lab, CLR-25 as operators and Office of Naval Research.
RDECOM is the parent command for the drone, but couldn’t complete its job without the support and input from its collaborating organizations.
"The concept has come across all of the branches, and this effort is basically grabbing all the people together into one program to push it forward," said Bob Forrester, a contractor with RDECOM.
The integration of logistical resupply drones into operations can be a huge asset to a unit. The drone would allow for Marines to eliminate the need to get the 15 vehicles required to run a convoy when you can just send one or two drones.
"The intent is to resupply everything a Marine may need in a tactical maneuver environment," said Forrester. "It lifts, transports, and also drops and can carry a couple hundred pounds."
One of the most beneficial qualities the drone provides is that it can be completely autonomous or operated manually. Using a computer program Marines could set up a predetermined GPS location, which would allow the drone to conduct its mission controller free.
"Overall it eliminates the threat of improvised explosive devices that you may run into in a convoy," said Lance Cpl. Zachary Black, an operator with CLR-25, qualified to fly the 1/3 scale model drone. "You can replace a drone, but you can’t replace a Marine’s life."
Another advantage to using a drone is the units will be able to take only the necessary requirements with them on an operation since they know drones can replenish their shortages. This will allow them to lighten the load.
"If we can give the units an assurance they’re going to be resupplied, then they can take the minimum amount of supplies they need allowing them to maneuver quicker, and making them more operationally effective," said Forrester.
The Marines present at the demonstration or basic unmanned aerial qualification level 1 complete and were responsible for flying the 1/3 scale model drone. These scale model drones are used for training and to test different capabilities.
"Initially we train on small systems and are working to upscale to larger systems to provide resupply capabilities to maneuver units," said Forrester.
The Marines are scheduled to fly full scale models early next year. The full scale drone will be approximately 13 to 14 feet long and will be capable of carrying a couple hundred pounds several miles to the Marines location.
Once the program provides a stable air platform it will allow for integrations to be made and the drones will be able to perform a number of different missions. A formal evaluation for a full scale model drone will be conducted next October.