US Air Force to develop rocket based cargo delivery

U.S. Air Force has chosen the Rocket Cargo capability as its fourth Vanguard program. The Vanguard programs aims to deliver game changing ne...

U.S. Air Force has chosen the Rocket Cargo capability as its fourth Vanguard program.

The Vanguard programs aims to deliver game changing new operational capabilities that provide warfighters with superior advantages on the battlefield in the next decade.

The Rocket Cargo will enable rapid worldwide logistic capability, with initial applications in swiftly restoring operational capability for forces forward in austere environments as well as dramatically reducing the time required to deliver crucial humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Rocket Cargo joins three current Vanguard programs, the Skyborg; developing an unmanned combat aerial vehicles intended to accompany a manned fighter aircraft, NTS-3 ; a flight experiment to examine and field capabilities to enhance space-based positioning, navigation, and timing and Golden Horde; an initiative to demonstrate collaborative autonomous networked weapons by creating an integrated weapon system where different technologies work together to defeat targets.

The research programs called Vanguards, will advance emerging weapon systems and warfighting concepts through prototyping and experimentation.

Under the Rocket Cargo Vanguard, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will lead a science and technology effort to determine the viability and utility of using large commercial rockets for Department of global Defense logistics.

AFRL will research and develop the unique aspects needed to leverage the new commercial capability for the DoD logistics mission. This includes the ability to land a rocket on a wide range of non-traditional materials and surfaces, including at remote sites. 

In addition, AFRL scientists and engineers will research the ability to safely land a rocket near personnel and structures, engineer a rocket cargo bay and logistics for rapid loading and unloading, and air drop cargo from the rocket after re-entry in order to service locations where a rocket or aircraft cannot possibly land.

The U.S. Space Force was designated as the lead service for Rocket Cargo Vanguard, marking the service’s first such program.