Beacon improves UAV’s cargo-delivery accuracy

By James K. Sanborn

A beacon the size of a hockey puck that can fit in any grunt’s pack could soon give Marines a novel way to call in quick, accurate resupply drops.

Developed by Lockheed Martin, the device is made to work in concert with the company’s unmanned K-MAX helicopter, which already is providing Marines at forward operating bases in Afghanistan with everything from ammunition to water.

“The beacons provide K-MAX with improved accuracy, allowing the aircraft to deliver critical cargo to remote sites within three meters of the designated drop-off point,” Lockheed officials said in a news release following a recent demonstration of the device at Fort Pickett, Va. “Deliveries of cargo as large as a compact car can be placed down with pinpoint accuracy even at night or in harsh weather.”