US escalating airdrops of essential items to protect ground troops in Afghanistan
Waza Khwa (Afghanistan), Apr. 22 (ANI): The U.S. military, using Google Earth and disposable parachutes, is escalating its airdrops to troops in isolated outposts, to avoid exposing ground convoys to ambushes and roadside bombs.
Around-the-clock Air Force drops of ammunition, fuel, food and water have doubled annually since 2006, reaching 60 million pounds of supplies last year, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The airdrops have taken on a new urgency with the surge in U.S. forces to almost 100,000 troops and the intensified threat from hidden explosives, which are often placed along known supply routes.
Such booby-traps killed 268 American troops last year, up 60 percent from 2009.
Parachute drops of supplies to American forces in Afghanistan are increasingly common thanks to rough terrain and roads seeded with booby traps by the Taliban. A dozen of the 18 Army positions in Paktika are supplied solely through parachute drops and helicopter lifts.
The air crews prepare for each mission by studying a three-dimensional Google Earth image of the line of approach, giving them a moving, cockpit-window view of the ridges, rivers and villages they'll see as they near the drop zone.
The approach is slow and low, and sometimes the planes come under fire from insurgents on the ground. Unless the delivery is urgent, the pilots usually don't go around for a second run if they can't make the drop on the first pass. (ANI)
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