We’ve discussed a few times the difficulty of supplying the war effort in Afghanistan. We’ve talked mostly about how tenuous the lines of communication are leading into the country. That’s the “wholesale” side of the equation. The “retail” side is getting the supplies from the major bases out to all the small outposts scattered across the country. There are really only three options
- Send it by truck
- Send it by helicopter
- Aerial delivery
You can figure out what a truck convoy looks like. And for a long time, the army was geared toward that model. But truck convoys are vulnerable to ambush in the close terrain of Afghanistan’s highlands.
Helicopter delivery is very common for a great many outposts. But there is always a shortage of helicopters, and helicopters have a fairly limited load capacity.
That leave a niche where aerial delivery is the best option for moving supplies. Check out this photo I found at Theo Spark.
That’s forty bundles of fuel, with what looks like four 55gal. drums in each bundle. That works out to about 8800 gallons of fuel. Given the costs of the pallets and chutes and the hourly cost of flying the cargo plane, that’s some pretty damn expensive fuel.
But it is cheaper than loosing a tanker truck and a its crew in an ambush.