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US Navy tests UAS ability to conduct logistics mission

US Naval Air Force Atlantic conducted a test of a logistics Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) prototype over Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on 21 February, US Navy (USN) officials confirmed.

The proof-of-concept test was successfully conducted by transporting lightweight logistical equipment from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC), Naval Station Norfolk, to aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) while the Ford-class ship was in port.

The long-range cargo transport aircraft, dubbed Blue Water UAS, is designed to operate with naval forces that typically operate in heavy winds over open water, and require aircraft to land on pitching vessels at sea, USN officials noted in a statement. The technology-demonstrator vehicle can operate in some of these conditions, although further development will be required, the USN said.

“The Ford Blue Water UAS supply demo is a first step in revolutionising logistics support to maximise operational availability and lethality for these critical capital assets,” Captain John Bush, director, Aircraft Material and Engineering, Naval Air Forces Atlantic, said.

“Carrier logistics is a complex and diverse problem set,” said Captain Paul Lanzilotta, Ford commanding officer. “Sometimes, getting a small part delivered to the ship has a big impact on the availability of an embarked system or aircraft. Having UAS like Blue Water may improve our ability to quickly meet specific logistics needs where payload and ship's location permit.”

Ships depend on successful logistics to maintain operations, USN officials said.

An analysis of navy casualty reports shows warships that move to non-mission-capable or partially mission-capable status often do so due to logistics issues like the need for electronic parts, 90% of which are logistical deliveries weighing less than 22.7 kg, USN officials said.

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