Wanted: Tools to help paratroopers during airdrops

Ariel Schalit/AP file photo

Technology for retrieving supplies is lacking.

The U.S. Army is seeking an “advanced tracking and recovery system” to help paratroopers find equipment parachuted to the ground for offensive missions, a request for information reveals. The call was issued because the current technology employed during such airborne assaults has proved inadequate.

Elite military units tend to tack infrared chemical lights onto airdropped equipment; paratroopers don night vision aids and retrieve them on landing. But terrain and foliage typically hamper vision, making it difficult for units to find the supplies quickly in unfamiliar environments. “The result of the current method is often an unacceptable level of confusion and too long a duration in finding equipment and assembling the personnel,” states the solicitation.

The military is casting the net for tools that will help paratroopers detect equipment as far as seven kilometers away and within two hours. Detection technologies should be encrypted to prevent enemy interception. The army published its RFI on May 17. Responses are due June 1.