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Ultra-Large Airship (ULA)

The Army Transformation wargames, such as the Vigilant Warriors series, have confirmed the future importance of multidimensional operations and the need for US forces to conduct operational maneuver from a strategic distance. One consistent study finding in the Army's wargames has been that the crucial measure of successful force projection is not the speed with which the first combat element engages, but is rather the rate at which the United States and its allies achieve decisive operational superiority. Vigilant Warriors 01 explored the challenges of multidimensional operations and operational maneuver from strategic distances. It featured the Army's Objective Force, and focused on deployment capabilities that can provide assured access, decrease predictability and dwell time, and quickly deliver troops and equipment together in sufficient size to generate immediate combat power.

Future air concepts also played a critical part in the Vigilant Warriors 01 campaign success. Three new types of airlift were employed: the advanced maneuver transport (AMT), the advanced theater transport (ATT), and two types of ultralarge airships (ULAs). The AMTs and ATTs were intratheater transports, while one type of ULA played a strategic role and the other an intratheater role (both ULAs were Civil Reserve Air Fleet assets).

The strategic ULA immediately impacted the Vigilant Warriors 01 wargame with its ability to deliver a 750-short ton sustainment load, given the Objective Force's hand-to-mouth logistics capability. The requirement for at least a 3,000-foot open landing space, appropriate materials handling equipment, its size, and the fact that it is a civilian platform limited the ULA to certain locations. Floor restrictions on the aircraft limited cargo to lighter items such as helicopters, light vehicles, and sustainment stocks. It was, nonetheless, a valuable asset because of the amount of cargo it could deliver.

The smaller, intratheater ULA could vertically deliver its cargo by hovering at approximately 100 meters and lowering its payload. The cost associated with the vertical discharge, however, was the requirement for a load exchange for ballast. In the wargame, ballast water was used, and this limited using CargoLifter's CL 160 to routes along the coast.

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Page last modified: 21-11-2015 18:51:39 ZULU