JPADS: Making Precision Air-Drops A Reality
The dilemma for airdropping supplies has always been a stark one. High-altitude airdrops often go badly astray and become useless or even counter-productive. Low-level paradrops face significant dangers from enemy fire, and reduce delivery range. Can this dilemma be broken?
The US military believed that modern technologies could allow them to break the dilemma. The idea? Use the same GPS-guidance that enables precision strikes from JDAM bombs, coupled with software that acts as a flight control system for parachutes. JPADS (the Joint Precision Air-Drop System) has been combat-tested successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan, after moving beyond the test stage in the USA… and elsewhere.
The JPADS Program & History
How JPADS Systems Work
After being dropped from high altitude, The Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) uses GPS and a guidance, navigation and control system to accurately fly itself to a designated location point on the ground. Its gliding ram-air parachute lets it land a significant distance from its point of release, while its guidance allows high-altitude airdrops to a single location or multiple locations at one time, within an accuracy of 50 – 75 meters.
Maj. Dan DeVoe, the US Air Mobility Warfare Center project officer for JPADS, says that the system has even improved traditional airdrops as part of the Improved Container Delivery System, or ICDS.
“Using their JPADS computer equipment, mission planners are now flying along traditional airdrop missions providing better aerial release points for those bundles as they are dropped from the plane. They’ve been able to increase air drop accuracy and altitude for traditional CDS bundles.”
The Mission Planner enables aircrews to plan and initiate load release at a precise Computed Air Release Point (CARP), or within a Launch Acceptance Region (LAR). Its basic hardware components include a high-pressure tolerant rugged laptop computer, dropsondes, and a roll-on, roll-off interface processor that is man-portable and can be installed aboard selected delivery aircraft in about an hour. Mission planning is done pre-flight and/or on-board the aircraft making use of the aircraft’s power, antennae, 1553 data bus when available, and secure data communications via wireless or plug-in options (when installed). The system’s key modeling parameters include aircraft position, altitude, airspeed, heading, ground speed, course, onboard load position (station), roll-out/exit time, decelerator opening time, trajectory to stabilization, and descent rate. The laptop’s Mission Planner software can input drop and target altitudes, steering waypoints, wind magnitude/directions as a function of altitude, opening altitudes, and GPS “hot start” information. It also receives updated near real-time wind speeds while in the air using hand-launched dropsondes (hand-sized, parachute-equipped wind indicators), to provide a final set of corrections.
Once the pallet is dropped, it’s independent of the aircraft, though the MMIST Sherpa does allow input from ground controllers once it gets close. The JPADS Airborne Guidance Unit (AGU) houses the battery power pack; GPS receiver; guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) software package; and the hardware required to operate the steering lines(s). Once the position is acquired, the AGU steers in accordance with the planned trajectory, making corrections in flight as necessary via an actuator system attached to the steering line(s).
JPADS is expected to be especially helpful to Special Forces, but also has wider military applicability. The overall program has been pursued as a joint effort by the US Army and USAF since 1997.
Several U.S. allies have expressed interest in JPADS systems, while others are developing comparable systems of their own.
JPADS: Systems & Contenders
The program has been an evolution in progress, as the US military gained experience with this new delivery option. Under the long term program plan, JPADS was envisioned as having up to 4 increments. Increment I was designed to handle loads up to 2,200 pounds (1 tonne), while Increment II would handle loads up to 10,000 pounds. Both of these increments have had a contract winner selected, the US/UK firm Airborne Systems. Increment III would involve JPADS for up to 30,000 lbs; and Increment IV would develop a JPADS system that can handle up to 60,000 lbs. Increments III and IV were to be pursued dependent upon funding, and also the technological success and after-action reviews associated with Increments I & II.
To date, some tests have been done using Increment III+ class systems, and they are now in service, but JPADS’ usefulness in practice has been skewed toward lighter weights. As of 2011, there are actually 5 JPADS versions, in a confusingly-named set that tilts strongly toward the light weight end:
- Micro-light: 10 – 150 pounds
- Ultra-light: 250 – 700 pounds
- Extra-light: 700 – 2,400 pounds
- Light: 5,001 – 10,000 pounds
- Medium: 10,001 – 42,000 pounds.
DID is aware of 3 contenders within the USA’s JPADS program. All JPADS products from the same manufacturer use a common software platform and user interfaces on the Autonomous Guidance Units and the Mission Planer.
Airborne Systems in Pennsauken, NJ supplies the current JPADS 2K and JPADS 10K. They field systems ranging from the MicroFly (100-700 lbs/ 45-315 kg) to the FireFly (500-2,200 lbs/ 225-1,000 kg) and DragonFly (5,000-10,000 lbs/ 2,200-4,500 kg). The FireFly won the US military’s JPADS 2K/Increment I competition, while the DragonFly won in the 10,000 pound class. Above those systems, the MegaFly (20,000-30,000 lbs/ 9,000-13,500 kg) set the world record for the largest ram air canopy ever flown, until it was broken in 2008 by a 40,000 pound flight using the even larger GigaFly.
MMIST in Ottawa, Canada offers the Sherpa 250 (100-265 lbs/ 46-120 kg), Sherpa 600 (265-600 lbs/ 120-270 kg), Sherpa 1200 (600-1,210 lbs/ 270-550 kg), and Sherpa 2200 (1,210-2,200 lbs/ 550-1000 kg). These systems have been bought by the USA and used by the US Marines, as well as several NATO allies.
Strong Enterprises in Orlando, FL offers the Screamer 2K in the 2,000 lb. class, and the Screamer 10K in the 10,000 lb. class. They have worked with the Natick Soldier Systems Center on JPADS since 1999. In 2007, the firm had 50 of their 2K Screamer systems used on a regular basis in Afghanistan, and another 101 on order for delivery by January 2008. Strong Enterprises told DID that they currently have no plans to develop larger versions.
WAmore in Phoenix, AZ advertises guidance systems, and JPADS systems in the 2,000, 10,000, and 42,000 pound class.
JPADS: Contracts & Key Events
FY 2011 – 2013
The renamed JPADS 10K is the 2nd type classified JPADS platform to be fielded by the U.S. military. Unlike the lighter JPADS 2K’s 150m accuracy, the 10,000 pound capacity JPADS 10K is accurate only to within 250 meters. On the other hand, it can be used with Type V airdrop platforms to carry vehicles like Humvees, artillery pieces like an M777, or irregularly shaped items like shelters, generators, etc.
To date, Airborne Systems has sold more than 2,500 JPADS 2K/ FireFly systems, and more than 250 JPADS 10K/ DragonFly systems to American and international customers.
July 26/12: Support. Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA receives an $8.75 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for services in support of the JPADS 2K (the 2,000 pound capacity version). Looks like their software (vid. July 13/11) is about to see wider use.
Work will be performed in Cambridge, MA, with an estimated completion date of July 23/17. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-12-C-0131).
July 22/11: Airdrop stats. During the During the 2011 International Airdrop Symposium at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, airdrop statistics show a sharp increase. Half-way through 2011, more than 39.5 million pounds of cargo have been airdropped in Afghanistan. In 2006, the year of the first JPADS airdrop, only 3.5 million pounds was airdropped for the entire year.
JPADS is part of that, but not a driver in and of itself. Cheap low-velocity cargo parachutes are bigger contributors, but JAPDS is advancing, too, and Richard Benney of the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center says that interest in JPADS is growing among other militaries. USAF. See also end-of-year report at Pentagon DVIDS.
July 13/11: Software improvement. Charles Stark Draper Lab touts its JPADS software, the product of a $1.5 million US Army rapid development program in February 2010 for an improved precision airdrop capability that could avoid difficult ground terrain. Aero News:
“The Army recently deployed an initial increment of JPADS 2K systems utilizing the Draper software to Afghanistan for use in Operational Enduring Freedom, and is currently developing plans to convert future deployed systems to Draper’s software. Results for all systems exceeded the Army’s goals during the first operational mission in May.
The Draper-developed JPADS guidance, navigation and control software is non-proprietary, owned by the government, and applicable to a wide variety of hardware platforms…”
March 17/11: Boeing subsidiary Argon ST in Fairfax, VA wins a $45 million not-to-exceed ceiling firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement, testing, delivery, training, and logistical support of the Joint Precision Air Drop System Ultra Light Weight (JPADS-ULW). JPADS-ULW is an aircraft deployed steerable canopy system that is capable of delivering cargo loads of 250 – 699 pounds rigged weight, safely and effectively from 24,500 feet mean sea level.
Work will be performed in Smithfield, PA, and is expected to be complete by March 17/16. This contract was competitively procured with proposals solicited via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online website, with 5 offers received by US Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA. See also May 27/10 entry.
“Through this new location, HDT Global will be able to further facilitate current and future Canadian DND programs and initiatives, such as the upcoming Arctic military exercise, Operation Nanook, in August 2011… “Large shelters will need to be delivered to remote Arctic locations, where there are no roads, and where weather may be severe. Airborne Systems Guided Precision Aerial Delivery Systems (GPADS) are the perfect delivery system for HDT shelters as they can precisely deliver any type of payload to remote locations from high altitudes. This enables us to provide a complete solution to the customer.”
Feb 9/11: Contract. Airborne Systems NA in Pennsauken, NJ wins an $11.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 391 JPAD systems.
Work will be performed in Pennsauken, NJ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/11. The bid was solicited through the Internet with 6 bids received by the U.S. Army Natick Contracting Division in Natick, MA (W911QY-07-D-0010).
July 24/10: Tech R&D. Airborne Systems announces the first drop test of a large canopy built using Dyneema materials developed by Cubic Tech Corporation of Mesa, AZ. Airborne Systems says the result provides G-12 cargo parachute capability and performance, but with a canopy size and 32 pound weight equivalent to a personnel canopy.
The test canopy was constructed to the same platform and diameter as the 42 pound, 62.2 foot main canopy used on the US Airforce BQM-167A aerial target, and initial testing was completed with a test vehicle weighing over 1,000 pounds. The goal is a payload limit of 2,000 lb, with a reduced pack volume – or the ability to use larger parachutes in a given pack volume, in order to increase payload weight. Parachutes for spacecraft and UAVs would benefit most, but the technology may have spinoffs for applications like JPADS as well.
June 18/10: Combat report. An account from Afghanistan makes it clear that even with JPADS, airdrops aren’t always antiseptic high-altitude operations:
“…a small unit of coalition ground forces traveled a great distance to support an operation aimed squarely at the Taliban and exhausted their food and water. While, navigating through a deep gorge in a mountainous river valley, the situation was quickly deteriorating… Rugged mountain sides rising up from the valley created a narrow ‘V’ and supplying the ground forces with food and water meant flying a C-130 through this narrow path… Complicating the already hazardous airlift mission was the weight of the load that had to be dropped–too heavy for the C-130 to split the ‘V’ and climb out. So the crew decided to halve the load and make two flights…”The entire mission probably lasted more than eight hours,” Major Dolan said. “It was sort of complicated. We had to fly between the rocks, find the drop zone, deliver the load and turn around and do it again.” “I couldn’t actually see the mountains or the drop zone,” Captain LaBarbera said… And on top of that, we had a malfunctioning anti-icing system which meant ice was building heavy on the left wing.”… Both flights of the mission were conducted with ‘bingo’ fuel, meaning as little fuel as possible, to avoid any extra weight… If enemy fire started coming in, Sergeant Snider said they had a plan for it. “It’s called, hope they don’t hit us,” Sergeant Snider said.”
May 27/10: JPADS-ULW. The USMC issues their solicitation for JPADS-ULW, as FedBizOpps solicitation #M6785410R1004. This follows the Feb 23/10 pre-solicitation:
“The Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC), PG-13 Infantry Weapons Systems (IWS), PMM-131, Reconnaissance and Amphibious Raids (R&R) currently has a requirement to procure Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS) Ultra Light Weight (ULW), interim logistic support, spare items, and training which will be awarded competitively as Best Value on a Firm Fixed Price (FFP) Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) five (5) year contract. Once the solicitation has been posted, all responsible sources may submit a proposal, which shall be considered by the agency. The Marine Corps anticipates the IDIQ Contract to have a minimum Government obligation to procure 30 JPADS – ULW under CLIN 0001 while all other remaining CLINS having no minimum procurement obligation by the Marine Corps. Additionally, the Marine Corps anticipates an IDIQ Contract value not to exceed (NTE) amount of approximately $45 million for the life of the contract. The solicitation will include the clause at 52.209-3, First Article Approval — Contractor Testing, in order to demonstrate compliance with all requirements of the ILWS performance specification. MCSC plans to award one (1) firm-fixed price contract…”
April 6/10: JPADS 2k parafoil. The U. S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center in Natick, MA issues sources sought Request for Information (RFI) #WARPADD-RFI-LCP, related to a new parafoil for JPADS 2k. Their problem is that it’s very hard to recover the parafoils from drop zones, which are far off-road by their very nature, and usually require a helicopter for any equipment recovery. They usually get the electronics guidance unit back, but not the parafoil, which is a 1,025 square foot semi-elliptical parafoil that is deployed by a static line initiated drogue parachute. So, they’re looking for a less expensive parafoil that they can expect to throw away. The result would be of interest to the USAF and the Army alike, and the Army is looking for design ideas and cost/schedule estimates for initial orders of 10, 100, or 500 parachutes.
The Army does recognize that a less expensive throw-away parafoil may have lower performance than the one they have, but it can’t fall below the current JPADS 2K Concept of Operations (CONOPs). A replacement system must be capable of being deployed at up to 18,000 – 25,000 feet MSL, with a lift to drag ratio of 3.2 to 1 and the ability to to safely deliver a 1,000-1,850 pound (threshold) payload with a reliability of 92% survival and 90% confidence, using the JPADS 2K Airborne Guidance Unit (AGU). Ideally, it would deliver 500-2,200 pounds (objective). Just one more complication:
“Achievement of the cost and schedule goals can be attained by development or use of inexpensive textiles and innovative construction techniques that will produce a ram-air parachute capable of meeting the aforementioned performance requirements. Offerors need to be cognizant of the Berry Amendment, which precludes the Department of Defense from procuring textile or textile end products that are not produced or manufactured in the United States. Therefore, any parachute material or end product must be made in the United States.”
Jan 27/10: ASG acquired. HDT International Holdings, Inc. in Solon, OH, which is majority owned by Metalmark Capital in New York, NY, announces its acquisition of Airborne Systems Group Ltd., who make the US Army’s JPADS 2k and JPADS 10k. Elek Puskas, who has led Airborne since 2005, and Airborne’s current senior management team, will continue to lead the company under HDT’s ownership. Financial terms are not disclosed.
RBC Capital Markets and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as financial and legal advisors to HDT. Moelis & Co. and MacFarlanes LLP served as financial and legal advisors to Airborne. Debt financing in support of the transaction was led by RBC Capital Markets, with BMO Capital Markets and GE Anteres serving as co-lead arrangers.
HDT buys Airborne Systems
Nov 6/09: JPADS-ULW. FedBizOpps solicitation #M6785410I1004 announces a Dec 1/09 Industry Day for JPADS Ultra Lightweight (JPADS-ULW), which will be hosted by US Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Reconnaissance and Amphibious Raids (PM RAR) Infantry Weapons Systems (IWS) directorate. The notice also provides the draft System Specification minimum requirements to industry – but there is no government R&D funding for this.
JPADS-ULW would deliver loads of 250-700 pounds within 50-150m CEP, when airdropped from between 4,500 – 24,500 feet. Desired range from maximum altitude would be 8-20 km, and the load should survive 85% of the time in wind speeds up to 17-25 knots. The systems must use the government’s MC-5 parachute assembly.
FY 2007 – 2009
Nov 19/08: Gigafly test. Airborne Systems announces [PDF] a successful test drop deploying 40,000 lbs. of payload under a single GPS-guided GigaFly ram-air parachute, surpassing the previous payload record of 33,000 lbs. set in September 2008. The cargo landed fully autonomously at a gentle 14 feet per second, about 100 meters from the intended point of impact. GigaFly’s test was conducted as part of a US Army Natick Soldier Research Development & Engineering Center development program, which aims to develop a system for use beyond Airborne Systems’ JPADS 2k/ FireFly and JPADS 10k/ DragonFly offerings.
GigaFly’s 10,400 square foot canopy and 195 foot wingspan when deployed give it up to 22 miles range, when dropped at maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. By comparison, a Boeing 747 has a wingspan of about 211 feet. See also GPS World | Frontier India.
Oct 12/07: DragonFly. Airborne Systems announces that its DragonFly model has been selected as the 10,000 lb Joint Precision Aerial Delivery System (JPADS) platform for the U.S. Army, and its smaller Firefly was picked for their 2K (2,000 lb) JPADS platform.
Airborne Systems has combined the core technologies of four of the world’s leading parachute brands to create these systems: Irvin Aerospace, GQ Parachutes, Para-Flite and AML (Aircraft Materials, Ltd). Airborne Systems’ North American headquarters is located in Pennsauken, NJ and Airborne Systems Europe is headquartered in Llangeinor, Wales in the U.K.
Airborne Systems picked for 2K, 10K
Feb 12/07: Testing. USJFCOM personnel with the help of U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center, the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command, the U.S. Army Project Manager Force Sustainment and Support, and industry recently concluded the 2nd of 3 joint military utility assessments (JMUA) at Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, AZ. The JPADS JMUA used Strong Enterprises’ Screamer 10K system, and assessed air drops of cargoes from 6,000 – 10,000 pounds, including simultaneous drops of 2-3 loads to separate drop zones. Read “JPADS Continues to Improve the Way it Delivers Aerial Drops to the Warfighter.”
March 26/07: Canada. The Canadian Forces Land Advanced Warfare Centre Airborne Trials and Evaluation Section (ATES) have undertaken trials of the Canadian Joint Precision Aerial Delivery Standoff System (CJPADSS) at the Primrose Lake Evaluation Range in Cold Lake, Alberta. The CJPADSS system is being tested using the Sherpa 2200, with the aim of possibly fielding operational systems in late 2007. Canadian Forces Army News report | Armed Forces magazine.
Feb 9/07: MMIST announces [PDF format] a strategic C$ 30 million investment from Industry Canada’s Technology Partnerships Canada to assist in the development of “next generation products designed to reduce the risk of cargo delivery in remote and hostile environments.” MMIST will use the funding to build upon MMIST’s successful CQ-10A SnowGoose cargo UAV, and family of Sherpa GPS guided parafoil systems.
December 2006: As of December 2006, 120 ICDS airdrops and 9 JPADS airdrops have been completed, delivering more than 1,000 bundles to troops on the ground. Source.
FY 2003 – 2006
Aug 31/06: A C-130 Hercules from the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron dropped supplies to a U.S. Army unit in Afghanistan using Strong Enterprises’ Screamer 2K JPADS system. The plane had an Air National Guard crew deployed from Alaska’s 144th Airlift Squadron. A total of 4 bundles were dropped, and all 4 bundles arrived at the drop zone, resupplying Army troops on the ground with ammunition and water.
“This was the first Air Force employment of the joint precision airdrop system in an operational or combat airlift mission,” said Maj. Neil Richardson. See USAF story: “Bagram C-130s drop high-tech cargo delivery system.“
1st combat drop
April 6/06: The 96th Airlift Squadron, Minneapolis-St. Paul IAP ARS, sent 2 aircrews to participate in JPADS training at the U.S. Army Proving Grounds in Yuma, AZ from Feb 25/07 – March 2/07. The cadre, comprised of members from 934th Operations Group, 934th Operations Support Flight and the 96 AS, were the first in Air Force Reserve Command to go through such training. USAF story.
November 2005: US Air Mobility Command opened a JPADS “Tiger Team” that included representation from dozens of agencies at command headquarters, especially the Combat Operations Division and Plans and Programs, as well as people from the Air Mobility Battlelab and the Air Force Mobility Weapons School. The team was chaired by Col. Charles Stiles, the AMWC vice commander.
June 8/05: Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Technology (MMIST) Inc. in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada received an unspecified contract from Defence R&D Canada (DRDC) to conduct science and research that will lead to improved landing accuracy of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to within 25 meters. A key part of the research will be the development of near real time airborne wind modelling, novel sensor packages, and improved landing algorithms that will control the UAV’s landing process while under a recovery parachute.
The research is aimed at improving the operational effectiveness of the Sagem Defense Securite Sperwer UAV fleet as a part of a larger market agreement between MMIST and Sagem, and applying an improved landing performance package to its SnowGoose CQ-10A UAV and Sherpa cargo delivery system products.
MMIST President Sean McCann said in the MMIST release that: “There are presently no GPS guided cargo delivery systems capable of better than 50 metres accuracy in real world conditions. The advances made during this project will ensure MMIST’s products keep more than one step ahead of international competition.”
Aug 9/04: First JPADS Sherpa drop in-theater, near Camp Korean Village, Iraq. USMC story.
1st in-theater drop
May 13/04: JPADS 1k concept approval.
Oct 23/03: Strong Enterprises, of Orlando FL announces US Patent No, 6,622,968 B1 for “Guided Airborne Vehicle, Cargo and Personnel Delivery System”.
Appendix A: JPADS Early Program History
JPADS has been a joint US Army/USAF program since 1997. The Air Force is responsible for the mission planning computer and wind collection, while the Army is responsible for the guidance unit and decelerators. The advanced concept technology demonstration was pursued by U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center at Natick, the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command (USAF AMC), the U.S. Army Project Manager Force Sustainment and Support, and industry.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab was the first regular force into the fray, when they purchased 5 of MMIST’s Sherpa systems in 2001 for evaluation. Earlier MMIST Sherpa versions including the body, canopy, riggings, remote control, rechargeable batteries and software, cost $68,000, vs. $11,000 for a standard military cargo parachute. The systems were maintained and tested by the Marines of 5th Air Delivery Platoon, which is now disbanded, but that early usage was successful enough to lead to JPADS.
The JPADS Sherpa has been used in Iraq since August 2004, when U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center fielded 2 units to the Marines of 1st Air Delivery Platoon. Previous versions of JPADS like the Sherpa 1200s had load limits of about 1,200 pounds, while the Marine riggers’ typical pack bundles weigh about 2,200 pounds.
This was OK with the US military, who saw the Sherpas etc. as a “60% solution” that would let them refine the tactics, techniques and procedures associated with GPS-guided paradrops, and improve their stated requirements based on actual field use. Waiting until FY 2008-2009, when the final system JPADS system anticipated to reach a Milestone C full production decision, would have benefited no-one.
Based on the use of fielded Sherpa systems, an Urgent Universal Needs Statement was submitted to Headquarters Marine Corps, and the Marine Requirements Oversight Council awarded $2 million to purchase 20 of the 1,200 pound capacity Sherpa 1200 systems, 10 of which were fielded in Iraq with 2nd Air Delivery Platoon out of Camp Lejeune, NC; and by 1st Air Delivery Platoon from Camp Pendleton, CA. The plan was to keep these systems in Iraq through the different troop rotations.
USJFCOM also stepped in, using its limited acquisition authority to spearhead the development of a 2,000 pound variant of JPADS that was not contemplated under the original advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD) for Special Operations Command. Those contracts went to Strong Enterprises for its Screamer systems.
Usage in Afghanistan, and additional contracts for both larger and smaller versions, followed. So, too, did other vendors, as the segment’s potential grew.
Additional Readings & Sources
- U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center – Joint Precision Airdrop System Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (JPADS ACTD). See also JPADS brochure [PDF].
- US Army Posture Statement 2009 – JPADS
- GlobalSecurity.org – Joint Precision Airdrop System [JPADS]
- QinetiQ North America – US JPADS Support.
“QinetiQ North America provides hardware support for the UHF Dropsonde Receive Subsystem (UHF-DRS), GPS Retransmit Subsystem (GPS-RTS), Dropsondes, and various other ancillary components. We provide access to warranty and depot-level repair services for all the JPADS-MP MSE Hardware.”
- Airborne Systems – Precision Guided Aerial Delivery Systems. Includes listings for their DragonFly and FireFly products.
- EADS Defence & Security – Aerial Delivery Systems: ParaFinder and ParaLander “Smart” Parachutes. ParaLander received its UAV category I certification, and approved for operational deployment by the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, in March 2011.
- MMIST – Sherpa. The Canadian firm supplies the Marines, the Canadian Forces, and some NATO allies. The firm also makes a UAV variant called the CQ-10A Snow Goose.
- Strong Enterprises – SCREAMER Cargo Delivery System. A better overview can be found at their dedicated Screamer JPADS web site.
- Military.com – Up in the Sky: Sherpa Guided Parachute Cargo System. Excellent overview, and see Eric Daniel’s analysis at the end.
- WAmore – JPADS 42k
- USAF (June 18/10) – Bagram C-130 crew airdrops GPS-guided supplies in Afghan valley
- CASR (November 2008) – Sherpa Precision Aerial Delivery System – Guided Parachutes for Logistics Air Drops in Afghanistan – MERX ACAN Notice. Canada orders 18 of MMIST’s Sherpa systems.
- US Army (Feb 15/08) – Yuma Testing Systems for War on Terror.
“Tests of the Family of Joint Precision Airdrop Systems, or JPADS, has resulted in limited fielding of the Screamer, Firefly and the Affordable Guided Airdrop System, or AGAS, in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters.”
- DID (Nov 8/07) – EADS ParaLander Enters Precision Paradrop Market. Ordered for German forces supporting ISAF in Afghanistan.
- US Army (June 14/07) – Precision Airdrops Deliver Directly to Battlefield Soldiers
- USAF, Dyess AFB (June 6/07) – JPADS makes aerial delivery precision science
- Defense Update (March 2007) – JPADS – The Way Ahead
- USAF (Jan 18/07) – JPADS continues ‘revolution in airdrop technology’
- Flight International (Nov 9/06) – US Army flags stepped up UAV aerial logistics requirement
- Pentagon DefenseLINK, Transformation (August 2006) – Airdrop System Resupplies Ground Troops
- DVIDS.NET (May 5/06) – GPS-guided Parachutes Increase Safety in Re-supply. Good field testimonials for the Sherpas; but they have weight limitations, and aren’t good for everything. The same article was also carried in Marine Corps News.
- Special Operations Technology Magazine (March 2006) – Industry Interview: Ted Strong. Discusses the Strong Screamer system.
- USJFCOM (June 6/05) – JAPDS to change the future of joint aerial deliveries for warfighters. “The U.S. Army Natick Center has also just begun an Army Technology Objective (ATO) for the next JPADS weight increment for payloads up to 30,000 pounds.”
- US Army AL&T (Jan – Feb 2005) – Two Sherpa 1K Systems Fielded in Iraq [PDF format]. The Sherpa 1K systems are part of the Joint Precision Airdrop System 2K (JPADS 2K) program managed by Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems (PM FSS) at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA, under the command and control of Project Manager Force Projection and Program Executive Officer Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS & CSS). Includes the initial fielding timeline up to May 14/04.
- Quartermaster Professional Bulletin (Winter 2004) – Precision Cargo Air Drop – Coming to Your Servicing Theater
- The Warrior, SSC Natick (Nov – Dec 2004) – NSC Wins 2004 Lab of Year. Natick Soldier Center (NSC) at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, MA won the Department of the Army Research and Development of the Year Award (Small Development Lab Category). The lab had chosen JPADS ACTD to highlight as a significant technical accomplishment.
- GPS World (September 2004) – Precision Drop: GPS Guides Supply Parachutes to Iraq Combat Zone
- Marine Corps News (Aug 16/04) – GPS-guided cargo chutes touchdown after first combat drop in Iraq
- Summit Magazine (April 2004) – Good for the Goose [PDF format]. Describes how MMIST bet the company’s existence to win a US Special Operations Command contract for its Snow Goose para-UAV. By early 2004, SOCOM had purchased 9 UAVs under its ALERT(Air Launched Extended Range Transporter) program.
- Special Operations Technology (Feb 9/04) – Gently to Earth. Covers advances in several parachute delivery systems, and goes into detail re: the components and related programs for JPADS.
- The Warrior, SSC Natick (May – June 2003) – Joint Drop