One of the most successful UAVs is
one that doesn't have wings, and mainly carries cargo. The CQ-10A SnowGoose is
a further development of the Sherpa cargo parachute system (that used GPS and
mechanical controls to guide the direction of the descending parachute for
The CA-10A has taken that technology one step
farther. Using a parafoil (a parachute that can be controlled in such a way
that the user can gain altitude and travel over long distances), and a "cargo
container" that contains a small propeller and engine, a unique type of UAV has
been created. The SnowGoose is basically rectangular box (on skids) with a 115
horsepower engine, fuel supply, parafoil controls, and six cargo compartments.
The U.S. Army Special Forces liked it so much that they bought several dozen of
them (at about $500,000 each) for use in Afghanistan. The SnowGoose is also
used in Iraq, and elsewhere.
The SnowGoose can stay in the air for up to 20
hours, get as high as 18,000 feet, and carry up to 600 pounds of cargo. The
Snow Goose is guided by onboard GPS and mechanical flight controls controlled
by a special microcomputer. The Special Forces are using them for things like
delivering supplies, or dropping psychological warfare leaflets. The UAV is
particularly good for delivering supplies to long range patrols, units that
need their stuff delivered discretely at night. The SnowGoose does this better
than a helicopter or a parachute drop.
The U.S. Army is paying for additional development
on the SnowGoose, enabling the UAV to perform recon, as well as supply,