In a nutshell: The Canadian Air Force has been testing a new type of drone that could make it easier for Canadians to track shipments of groceries to the United States.
The technology is being tested with an Air Force C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, and it’s being tested in the hopes that the military could use it to help with logistics or other tasks.
“It would allow us to make deliveries on time in an area that we may have previously been unable to do,” Lt.-Col. Mark McNeil said in a statement from the Department of National Defence.
“It would enable us to deliver on a timeline, or at least, a delivery that we can control.”
The C-30J Hercules, or the C-31, is the military version of the C130 Hercules, the Hercules transport plane used by the Canadian Forces.
The C-32A is a cheaper and simpler alternative.
McNeil says the drone would be capable of delivering a large number of items in a small area.
“If we need to deliver a load to a depot, a particular location, we can just send a C-33 or an C-36,” McNeil told CBC News.
“If we have an operation in a region that has been affected by weather or other issues or things like that, that we’re having trouble with, we could use that C-3 aircraft or a C130.”
The drone would not be able to operate in a certain area.
But McNeil says it’s still possible to deliver an item that’s in another part of the world, or even outside of Canada.
“I’m not sure that’s a huge problem,” he said.
“I don’t know if it would be really useful in terms of what I would need to do for the logistics and such.”
The US Federal Aviation Administration said the C3-5, which it said was in testing, could carry up to six tonnes of cargo, which could be used for shipping and airlift.
But it was not clear how often it could be employed.
The US Air Force is also using the C2-2, a cheaper version of its C130 transport plane, to deliver supplies to a range of US military bases.
But the military doesn’t expect to use the C6-1, a much more expensive version, until 2020.
The Pentagon has been working with the Air Force on a C2, but the service has not publicly revealed how it will use the technology.