GLIDERS OFFER MANY advantages on the battlefield, not the least of which are low cost and silent operation—two things the military loves. That explains their prevalence during World War II, when the Allies used them to land troops and material. Gliders fell out of fashion, but the Pentagon might bring them back to hotspots around the world, with a few high-tech modifications.
The US Marine Corps is testing disposable autonomous gliders that could deliver supplies to troops in enemy territory, or provide support to amphibious forces assaulting beaches far from resupply ships. This marriage of glider technology with advanced guidance and control systems turns cargo boxes into flying trucks, capable of carrying 1,600 pounds of supplies to drop zones up to 74 nautical miles away. That kind of range means larger aircraft can deploy the gilder drones far from the battlefield.