Dubbed the “Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle,” or “JTARV” for short, it’s being compared to “Amazon on the battlefield.” Of course, this namesake comes from the e-retailing giant’s interest in using drones to deliver packages. Amazon has invested heavily in developing drone technology for package deliveries — something the U.S. Army also wants to achieve.
So, how will the JTARV work? According to a press release issued by the Army, this isn’t your typical consumer-grade drone. Developed by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), it will allow soldiers to request deliveries on the fly, regardless of their location. Researchers close to the project say they are working on ways to increase its payload capacity to 800 pounds, as well as extending its range up to 125 miles.
The ARL is a part of the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command. It’s primary mission is to provide “innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army.” It’s safe to say the JTARV will help the ARL accomplish this task in numerous ways.
“We’re exploring increasing payload capacity to 800 pounds and extending the range up to 125 miles,” said Tim Vong, associate chief of ARL’s Protection Division. “We’re also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We’re looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions.”
As any military strategist knows, resupplying soldiers with ammunition, food, water, fuel, weapons and other equipment is critical in warfare. Without the necessary supplies, the soldiers won’t be able to carry out the operation to their fullest ability. This is where the JTARV comes into play: this massive, heavy-duty drone will bring supplies to soldiers on the battlefield, without risking injury to the pilot.
The JTARV is technically classified as a quadcopter, meaning it features four independent rotating blades. The Army has been working on it for the past two years. However, it was originally designed by the UK’s Malloy Aeronautics, which received funding for the project on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. The United States Army took notice to the project, ultimately striking a deal to acquire it.
Unfortunately, there’s still no word on when the JTARV will become operational. There are prototypes currently in the works, though researchers hope to improve the drone’s existing design to increase its payload, range, and speeds.