Army looking to use mortars to resupply soldiers with ammunition while in battle

Paratroopers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, conducts a live fire event with a 120mm mortar system in support of a platoon Live Fire Exercise in Wedrzyn Training Area, Poland, on Nov. 29, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Eugen Warkentin)

Incoming fire may become a welcoming sound- the US Army is currently looking at a new way to resupply troops with essential equipment by way of resupply shells fired from artillery and mortars

The service was recently granted a patent for a new supply delivery method that could utilize hollow projectile shells, GPS guidance and parasails to deliver much-needed supplies to beleaguered troops in contested areas.

Known as the Ammunition Resupply Projectile (ARP) the delivery device could be used to supply ammunition, food, medical supplies, or anything else- if it fits, it ships.

According to the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, “a tail section is secured to the payload deployment section, which includes a steerable decelerator system. That system also houses a guidance and navigation system made up of electronics, power supply and a parafoil control mechanism.”

In low ASVAB score terms, the supplies are stuffed into a hollow artillery shell and shot in the general direction of friendly troops. A steerable parachute deploys and is guided to the good guys using on-board GPS.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. – Schematic illustration of a resupply mission. Projectile is fired toward the downwind direction of a stranded solider. In flight, the guided parafoil payload is released, which then executes an optimized maneuver to accurately reach the target (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

For a pinned infantry platoon in an area where helicopters or even fixed wing aircraft can’t fly safely (which may be a very real threat in the near future), the ARP would be a godsend. The commander would simply call for resupply in a method similar to calling for fire, providing battalion mortars or artillery with a safe coordinate to land ammunition. Mortar crews stuff the shells with ammo (and possibly contraband, if they’re really on your side) and send it on its way.

Now a flying projectile on a centuries-old flight path, the shell suddenly takes a futuristic twist by deploying a parafoil, which will guide the ammunition (and long cut dip) to the grunts who need it most, tiding them over until reinforcements can arrive.

While ARP is merely a “vaporware” concept for now, the idea is pretty solid. With the future of American warfare looking less and less one-sided, there could come a time when American air superiority could be contested- making round-the-clock aerial resupply a distant, fond memory.

According to Popular Mechanics, the concept is currently limited to mortars, which leaves little room for more than 150 rounds of 5.56 ammo per mortar round.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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