Guided Parafoil Air Delivery System - Light
The GPADS-L utilizes a ram air parachute with a projected payload capacity of 700 - 1500 pounds. An automatic navigation system using the militarized Global Positioning System (GPS) allows for self-guided precision delivery. The precision for this system is specified as 100 meters circular error probable. Predicted impact velocity is less than 15 feet per second.
GPADS-L provides the warfighter with a new capability, the ability to deliver payloads accurately from high altitudes and offset distances. The GPADS delivery systems greatly enhanced the survivability of delivery aircraft due to the ability to be deployed from high altitudes (25,000 feet Mean Sea Level and offset distances 20 kilometers) away from the theater of early entry or contingency operations, avoiding the surface to air threat environment.
GPADS-L offers other tactical advantages to theater forces through the GPS-based guidance technology. The delivery accuracy and precision that results from the GPS guidance allows for smaller drop zones and reduced load dispersion on the drop zone, resulting in faster force consolidation. GPADS-L provides a "Just In Time" resupply capability which will allow for pre-positioning of supplies ahead of rapidly moving combat forces and covert delivery of supplies to isolated units and special operations forces.
GPADS-L was officially selected as one of two projects in the Department of the Army that are part of the War-fighting Rapid Acquisition Program. This program's goal is to streamline the acquisition process to Type Classify a Non-Developmental Item in 14 months. This program is being conducted under requirements from the Early, Entry, Lethality, and Survivability Battlelab.
The notification from the Under Secretary of the Army for Research, Development and Acquisition to initiate the program was reviewed on January 27, 1995. A Type Classification Generic milestone was completed on schedule on March 7 and contract award occurred in late September 1995.
During successful completion of technical and operational testing, GPADS-L met or exceeded all technical performance requirements, including deployment from altitudes of 5,000 to 25,000 feet and delivery to a DZ offset 20 kilometers from the release point with a 100-meter CEP accuracy. The usefulness of this technology was demonstrated by the Marine Corps during the Hunter Warrior Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) at Camp Pendleton, California, in 1997. Six GPADS-L airdrops provided cache pre-positioning and troop resupply. These missions were extremely successful and supported the Marine Corps' "logistics over the shore" concept.
In response to a Marine Corps and Special Operations Forces (SOF's) need for a smaller payload capacity system, GPADS-XL was developed using a smaller, more conventional, and easily packed parafoil with a cargo capacity of 250 to 650 pounds. SOF units are training with GPADS-L and GPADS-XL to incorporate the precision delivery concept into their tactics and procedures. Additionally, the effectiveness of integrating a propulsion system with GPADS-L for an extended range capability is being explored.
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