Military Gliders Are Making A Comeback, This Time In Unmanned Form

Sun Tzu said, “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” This is as true in the modern world as it was 2500 years ago, and logistics have helped win and lose many wars and battles over the centuries. To this end, Logistical Gliders Inc. is developing one-time use, unmanned delivery gliders, for the US Military.

Reminiscent of the military gliders used in WW2, the gliders are designed to be dropped from a variety of aircraft, glide for up to 70 miles and deliver supplies to troops in the field. Specifically intended to be cheap enough to be abandoned after use, the gliders are constructed from plywood, a few aluminum parts for reinforcement and injection molded wing panels. There are two versions of the glider, both with huge payloads. The LG-1K, with a payload capacity of 700 lbs/320 kg and the larger LG-2K, with a payload capacity of 1,600 lbs/725 kg. Wings are folded parallel to the fuselage during transport and then open after release with the help of gas springs. The glider can either do a belly landing in an open area or deploy a parachute from the tail at low altitude to land on the crushable nose.

Gliders like these could be used to deliver supplies after natural disasters, or to remote locations where road travel is difficult or impossible while reducing the flight time required for conventional aircraft. Powered UAVs could even be used to carry/tow a glider to the required release point and then return much lighter and smaller, reducing the required fuel or batteries.

Drones are already used to deliver medical supplies in Rwanda and Ghana, and it’s possible to build your own autonomous unmanned glider. Check out the video after the break to see the big boys in action.

31 thoughts on “Military Gliders Are Making A Comeback, This Time In Unmanned Form

  1. Should have known this was something that the USMC was supporting. If it is cheap, works, and can take a beating the jarheads will buy it. LOL, the duct-taped sides reminded me of some of the test projects we did while employed at a DoD test and eval facility for marines.

      1. You do not understand jarheads – they do not do ‘disposable’. They are true hackers – they re-use the unusable and re-purpose the single-use stuff. I saw some amazing shit built literally in the middle of sand dunes during the 91/92 Gulf war.

        1. The disposable part here is more intended to reflect the fact this thing will only ever “land” once (if you can call it landing. Controlled flight into terrain is more like it). While some parts of it might be usable some other way, after a landing this thing is not economically recoverable to use again for a supply drop. Hence “disposable”

          1. One more time people. The intent of the designer, contractual specifications, and delimiters per the respective FMF manual has little effect to the scope of the end-use by a Marine.

            WTF, is this site not called ‘hackaday’?

        2. I’m not going to dispute that military personnel in the field turn junk, into usable junk. Hell people outside the military sector do that everyday, as well. The fact, these gliders are not designed/constructed to beating stands, unless the write up is in error.

      1. There is a scene in the movie “The Longest Day” where a downed glider is found behind enemy lines and the troops within it are dead. In the satchel of a senior officer in the glider was a map of the D-Day invasion that was labeled “Remain in England” or something like that.
        But the German military figured the map was a ruse, so they ignored it.

        1. It was in the film A Bridge Too Far.
          This does seem to be based on a real event, but there’s no real consensus either way on whether the Germans believed the plans were fake or not.

          1. “The Germans” knew an invasion was imminent and coming but didn’t know exactly where. If that map ever existed (too stupid to be true) it would be pinpoint one of the many invasion location. So nothing new really, nothing informative for “the Germans”.

          2. There’s the other movie “The Man Who Never Was” (based on a book) that deaos with a deliberate attempt to fool the Germans by finding a body and presenting it as a drown pilot, and loading it up with fake documents to mislead the Germans.

            There were endless schemes to mislead the Germans, so each tiny bit probably caused them to tip in another direction. They might question each bit separately, but the other bits made them doubt their doubts.them

            It probably helped if the Allies guessed what the Germans were expecting, so the misleading played to their expectations.

            Michael

      2. I’ve read the book but can’t remember what it said about the gliders. I assume they were used because it required no parachute training, and equipment could be sent too. The gliders could be made cheap, it added carying power to each plane without doubling the cost.

        But that shows need for disposable. The gliders couldn’t t be recovered without landing a plane, or having other transport, not really something that’s going to happen in a war zone.

        Michael

        1. Gliders were used in Burma for this by the UK’s chindit force with advance parties flying in by disposable glider to open up and clear/prepare jungle airstrips so they could accept aircraft landings, the troops flown using these had some parachute experience but the gliders were single use Hercules or WACO-G4’s in their US spec and used because they also carried equipment for the task, lots crashed on landing heavily but the operation was a success in that it opened up the strips for further deployment aircraft. They were resupplied with parachute drops in the field once deployed. And part of the regiments and their techniques eventually went on to form the basis the special air force (or SAS).

        2. FWIW military troop and cargo gliders were capable of reuse and even of being recovered without landing: they had a recovery system consisting of a cable strung up between two poles, that a recovery plane would fly low and hook and yank-lift the glider off the ground and back into the air. As far as I know, it was never used in combat. However, it was used quite a bit in testing, post-war in recovering gliders dropped into the Arctic for resupply, and an essentially identical but smaller system was used extensively for airlifting individual people (spies, mostly) out of enemy territory before helicopters were in common usage.

    1. Even though parachutes where an option, gliders where used to transport troops during WW II My guess that was because it took less time to train foot soldiers, that it did to add in parachute jump training.. And that gliders can be built in any facility where the construction material could be shipped to. Even Ol’ McDonald’s barn if need be.

      1. There’s also a strategic problem of keeping a unit together. Large scale parachute deployments are plagued with scattered landings, often taking considerable time to reform a unit into something that can even defend itself. Glider drops were not without their own problems, but keeping the unit together wasn’t one of them.

      2. The gliders allowed the tow planes to effectively carry far more troops than would fit in the tow plane. It also gave a greater range to the tow plane, which could drop the glider miles from the destination and circle back to get another glider, more rapidly delivering troops than parachutes could. The trade-off was that any problem with the glider would kill everyone, but success meant a solid group not struggling to join up in contested territory. I believe the Mayor of Saint Louis was killed when a demo flight of such a glider failed at the then new airport failed, along with a number of then important leaders and businessmen.
        https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/local/storytellers/eyewitness-remembers-one-of-st-louis-worst-air-disasters-75-years-later/63-579472206

  2. If your big $$$ military project flies on inav and some shitty drone OSD, you’ve got some work to do. I have a slight feeling of scam here… This stuff isn’t going to replace supply parachute drops at all. The US forces don’t fly into denied airspace, making this only benefit moot.

    1. Considering that this avoids overflights that parachutes require I’d think it has great benefit to getting supplies rapidly to otherwise inaccessible locations, especially to denied airspace.

  3. Aren’t gliders intrinsically unreliable for landing location?
    I mean for an unplanned landing, not a private gliding to and from a known airstrip.

    A wind change and they are lost. In particular this very heavy gliders, probably unable to climb back up on a stream.

    Are they?

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