WASHINGTON — During the Second World War, so-called gliders or cargo gliders were used on both the German and Allied sides to bring personnel and material to the operational area. On the one hand, there were not enough planes available, on the other hand, because they were silent and enabled the troops to carry out surprise attacks and special forces operations.
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Now the cargo glider concept is apparently being taken up again by US special forces. However, not to relocate personnel, but to enable the troops to be supplied. The US Department of Defense recently awarded a $2.2 million contract to the Californian company Silent Arrow, the company announced yesterday.
In the next twelve months, five GD-2000 type GD-2000 glider drones are to be delivered to the US special forces, operational demonstrations are to be carried out and a Concept of Operations [CONOPS] for such systems is to be developed. The unmanned supply gliders are also to take part in the Emerald Warrior exercise, one of the largest maneuvers of the U.S. Special Operations Command [USSOCOM], and provide proof of concept suitability there.
During the exercise, the gliders are to be used, among other things, by special aircraft, standard cargo aircraft, and helicopters. In addition, the radar signature of the systems is to be determined and the ability to land on water is to be checked.
Silent Arrow GD-2000
The Silent Arrow GD-2000 cargo glider is a one-way platform that can hold up to 740 kg of cargo for a total weight of 907 kg. It navigates and lands completely autonomously. The torso is rectangular and somewhat reminiscent of a coffin. Above the transport, box is two fold-out tandem wings. These open automatically thanks to pull-up lines after the start/drop.
The length is 2.43 m with an [unfolded] wingspan of 8.5 m. The manufacturer specifies the range as up to 64 kilometers, with a dropping process at a height of 7.6 kilometers. The route should be able to be covered in twelve minutes. Landing in the target area is indicated with an accuracy of 100 m.
Thanks to the greater range compared to dropping loads by parachute, the manned carrier aircraft can remain outside the danger zone of enemy air defenses.
The glider has no drive that causes noise or other emissions. This can also be used to supply units that should remain undetected.
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