A US $5,000 fee may sound like a steep price to pay for most ordinary deliveries. But it’s a price the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory would gladly pay for a disposable glider drone that could deliver 320 kilograms (700 pounds) of supplies to ground troops at remote outposts or in the middle of a warzone. Earlier this month, the Marines awarded a contract to kick-start the second phase of flight testing for such battlefield delivery drones.
The recent contract given to the Yates Electrospace Corporation aims for flight tests to refine the design and construction of the company’s “Silent Arrow” glider drones that resemble sleek missiles with extendable wings.
The ultimate goal of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory’s TACtical Air Delivery (TACAD) program is to develop a disposable glider drone that can deliver the 320-kilogram payload to within 45 meters of any given target site on Earth—and for a price that could make military resupply costs at least 10 times cheaper.