The United States Navy ran a battery of tests using different aerial means in order to evaluate the capacity to deliver supplies to a submarine. The experiments that involved the nuclear submarine USS Henry M. Jackson saw a variety of aircraft ranging from a helicopter, a plane and even a drone try their luck.
The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson rose to the surface in the waters near Hawaii. There, several aircraft ran the gauntlet. Methods went from quick airdropping into the ocean from a C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport plane, to a precise sling delivery from a MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft or a MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter.
But probably the most impressive feat was when a small quadcopter drone managed to hover above the submarine and gently deliver its package, not unlike the delivery solutions advertised by Amazon a few years ago. Weather conditions make it particularly difficult to operate a drone at this altitude in a maritime environment.
“This event was designed to test and evaluate the tactics, techniques, and procedures of U.S. Strategic Command’s expeditionary logistics and enhance the overall readiness of our strategic forces,” explained the U.S. Navy. While the payload from a drone is limited, it could be useful to deliver critical cargo such as medicine, tools or even intelligence. Such a quick and efficient capacity is especially handy for submarines, whose mission is to stay immersed as long as possible.