It’s a very crucial problem but for now without any near term solution – how can the Israeli defence forces (IDF) evacuate wounded soldiers from the combat zone under fire, within the “golden hour” that is in many cases the last chance for survival?
So far the effort has not been successful. Ideas are evaluated but none is solving the problem of aerial medical evacuation (medevec) from the front combat line.
The IDF is very keen to acquire an unmanned casualty evacuation platform and is following very closely the development efforts made in Israel and elsewhere.
A parallel effort is to develop an unmanned air system (UAS) that will be capable of performing resupply missions to front line combat units. As reported in Flight International on 16 May Elbit Systems won a contract to develop a cargo UAS for the IDF.
The project has been dubbed “Flying Elephant” and is aimed at resupply missions to the front combat line.
The Elbit Systems design is based on a wheeled cargo pallet that can be loaded with 1t of ammunition, food or water. The pallet is attached to a special parafoil with servo systems that will ensure its aerodynamic shape. The “Flying Elephant” will be able to fly for a “number of kilometres” and will have a GPS system for navigation to the desired supply point.
The problem of resupply to front combat units became acute during the second Lebanon war.
Is a “Flying Elephant” style UAS the solution for effective medical evaluation under fire? Experts are not sure but they add that the design may be a “possible solution” in a different version.
The experts say that flying supplies are not like flying wounded soldiers to safety. It seems that the efforts will be accelerated but the current technology like the fancraft of the Urban Aeronautics AIrMule hovering craft is not ripe yet.
The continuous use of helicopters to transfer wounded to nearby field hospitals, is becoming very dangerous, as the fire concentration even in urban combat areas can be very intensive. The presence of shoulder launched missiles and rockets in the possession of militant groups has changed the scale of the threat.
There will be a solution because it’s needed, but I wouldn’t take the chance to predict a time frame.