Combat resupply

(see update at the end)

Combat tends to consume a lot of munitions, including munitions for direct fire - and those need be carried by either the infantryman or armoured fighting vehicle because let's face it, we collectively dismiss porters and those robodogs are nonsense.

A competent supply NCO in Vietnam was able to get a pallet loaded with all that's needed for utility helicopter airlift to the troops in contact. A very competent supply NCO would pack the stuff before it was asked for because he had the experience and paid attention to the radio chat.

I dismiss such helicopter logistics for European warfare and I dismiss this also for unmanned helicopters such as the K-MAX. Such helicopters are large and expensive enough to be high-enough-value targets for all those systems meant to defeat low-flying manned battlefield helicopters.

There is an alternative that might make sense for the especially weight-sensitive infantry, though:

The problem of resupplying infantry close to opposing forces or even in contact with munitions, medical supplies, hot food, fresh water and batteries might be solvable with rotary cargo drones. The small unit would need to have communicate a suitable landing zone's coordinates and a battalion supply team could send these drones en route (and recover them) with packages of 12-15 kg (it should suffice for the heaviest single relevant piece of equipment, such as an anti-tank guided missile).
The drones would navigate by inertial navigation sensor and could use a directional (downward focused) radio to interrogate another very low emission power radio beacon which would allow for a correction of a navigation error of about 20 m. I suppose (but did not succeed at checking it) that this error correction should suffice to land a drone on a flat roof after 20 km of flight.

The supply crew would recover the drones that landed in their varying supply point landing zones, switch in a charged battery pack, visually inspect for damage, check if the mission log shows any problems and ultimately load it for another delivery.

The drone could be equipped with the necessary sensors (such as LADAR) for flying close above the treetops of woodland to minimise the exposure to hostiles on the ground. Alternatively, they could fly below roof level through streets.

Any sensors but LADAR would necessitate an updating of maps with overland power lines and what maps generated by radar satellites in order to avoid crashes.

Here are some reviews of drones with up to 18 kg payload, that should be the relevant size and could also be used for a tethered sensor drone (almost no battery capacity needed due to cable power supply, no radio needed). Claims for rotary payload drones go up to more than 200 kg payload, but the next threshold after 15 kg should be at about 100 kg, since this would enable casualty and civilians evacuation (at night or complete with red-cross-on-white-cloth bags).

Now why am I not surprised that the big "defense" contractor companies didn't capture the market with this years ago?


edit: My bad, I overlooked this. They think of something like this, but bigger.

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