- The Washington Times - Monday, April 7, 2014

The U.S. Navy has a new means of getting aid to military troops and Marines in the field without taking on more casualties: A software program that allows even the most novice of operators to guide an unmanned helicopter using a specially designed app and a tablet-size computer.

The $100 million program includes software and technologically advanced sensors that can turn almost any type of winged craft into an unmanned flying machine — a drone — that can safely swoop and serve Marines who are in the midst of battlefield operations, The Daily Mail reported.

The system is “truly leap-ahead technology,” said Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of Naval Research, in the news outlet.

He’s due to showcase the technology to military officials at a conference in Washington on Tuesday, Reuters reported. It comes on the heels of a military report that reveals that one person was killed every 24 times the military resupplied troops with fuel in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007, The Daily Mail said.

The beauty of the technology, too, is that it lets a Marine with no flight experience actually give landing instructions to a cargo helicopter — with only a few minutes of computer training, Adm. Klunder said.

Marines do have another unmanned craft program that drops food and water to troops on the field. It’s called K-MAX, but the glitch is that program requires detailed planning and preparation to guarantee a safe landing zone. And operators need lengthy training to ensure successful missions, The Daily Mail said.

This new software program takes “unmanned aerial systems to the next level by introducing … autonomy that woks,” said Brigadier Gen. Kevin Killea, the head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, in the news outlet.