Via John at Castle Arrggghhh, here’s a Youtube about air-dropping supplies to a Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan, and how GPS technology has made airdropping supplies easier and more feasible.
Yes, that’s the RAF, and they’re resupplying the British Army (ever wonder why it’s “the Royal Navy” and the “Royal Air Force” but not the “Royal Army?”) but the basics apply to US forces as well, with a couple of caveats.
First, the RAF has a serious shortage of Chinook helicopters. They’ve recently signed contracts to buy more, but they’ll be short of helos for a while. With fewer helicopters to move heavy loads, they have to either move supplies by road, or air-drop them. For many missions that the RAF might air-drop supplies, US forces would simply use Chinooks.
The second is that even this isn’t the cutting edge on using GPS to improve drop accuracy. The comment at The Castle points to MMIST, a supplier of air-drop accessories. And while the video seems to show their Low Cost Aerial Delivery system, they also sell GPS guided para-delivery systems. In fact, almost as soon as the Army realized that GPS could be used for more than just pinpointing your location, they started development of a system to guide air-drops using modern airfoil parachutes tied to a GPS system.