Release Date
November 29th, 2023
Open Date
January 3rd, 2024
Due Date(s)
February 21st, 2024
Close Date
February 21st, 2024
Topic No.


Low-Cost Long-Range Airdrop Delivery


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024


The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for a research topic titled "Low-Cost Long-Range Airdrop Delivery" as part of the SBIR 24.1 BAA. The objective of this topic is to develop and demonstrate an expendable system capable of airdropping and delivering a 20 lbs. payload, 200 nautical miles from the drop, at a low cost. The system should be capable of being airdropped from both the C-130 and CV-22 aircraft and meet relevant safe separation standards. The system should also have the ability to set or change coordinates prior to deployment and not require anti-jam capabilities. The goal is to reduce unit cost to $10k for 100 units, allowing for proliferation in mission sets where current capabilities are too expensive. The system should be compatible with existing cargo support equipment and have the ability to exfil away from the drop zone or support rapid destruction and disposal on the ground. Phase I proposals will not be evaluated, and Phase II requires the development and demonstration of the system, including performance testing and cost projections. The system has potential applications in military operations, search and rescue, and disaster support. The solicitation is closed, and more information can be found on the DOD SBIR website.




The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate an expendable system capable of being airdropped and delivering a 20 lbs. payload, 200 nautical miles from the drop, which can be procured at a low cost.


DESCRIPTION: Government and industry both have experienced considerable challenges in delivering necessary supplies to the ground assets that need them. These challenges are compounded for the military, where standoff range and safety are imperative to protect both ground and air assets. Current methods used by the Department of Defense are capable but too expensive to proliferate in the force.


To allow use anywhere in the world, the system needs to be capable of being airdropped from both the C-130 and CV-22. Airdrop will require solutions for the structure of the air vehicle to survive the forces undergone during safe separation. This will also require the airdrop package or other delivery method to meet relevant safe separation standards and be capable of fitting within the cargo areas of both aircraft. The autopilot should provide the ability to set or change the coordinates by loadmasters onboard the aircraft prior to the deployment. The system will not be controlled or updated once launched and does not require anti-jam capabilities.


Long standoff ranges allow higher operational safety for both the aircraft and receiving party. Any system to be considered should be appropriate for normal airdrop missions for CV-22 and C130s and capable of performing the mission in light winds.


To be considered, proposals must make every effort to reduce unit cost. The threshold is $30k per unit for 100 units with an objective of $10k for 100 units. This low-cost goal allows for proliferation in mission sets where current capabilities simply would not make sense for one-time-use delivery assets. Any system to be considered must provide accurate cost proposals detailing how their unit cost is calculated and achievable.


In order to align with Operational Imperative 7 (See Ref 1), Readiness to Deploy and Fight, a system need to be developed that allow for transportation with preexisting support systems. This could include the 463L half pallet system and the Joint Modular Intermodal Container (JMIC) (See Ref 2).


PHASE I: This is a Direct to Phase 2 (D2P2) topic. Phase 1 like proposals will not be evaluated and will be rejected as nonresponsive.  For this D2P2 topic, the Government expects that the small business would have accomplished the following in a “Phase I-type” effort via some other means (e.g. IRAD, or other funded work). It must have developed a concept for a workable prototype or design to address at a minimum the basic capabilities of the stated objective above.  Proposal must show, as appropriate to the proposed effort, a demonstrated technical feasibility or nascent capability to meet the capabilities of the stated objective.  Proposal may provide example cases of this new capability on a specific application.  The documentation provided must substantiate that the Offeror has developed a preliminary understanding of the technology to be applied in their Phase II proposal to meet the objectives of this topic.  Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results.


PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a system capable of airdrop and delivery of small payloads at low cost

i.          Develop and demonstrate an delivery system capable of airdrop from the cargo envelope of C-130s and CV-22s

ii.         System must fly 200 nautical miles from airdrop point

iii.        System must be capable of delivering a 20 lbs payload with a volume of 480 in3 notionally 8 in × 20 in × 3 in.

iv.        System must be capable of a delivery accuracy within a circle with a diameter of 200 meters

v.         Threshold unit cost of $30k per system with an objective $10k unit cost

vi.        Develop matrix of operational tradeoffs relating to employing the new system

vii.       System must be capable of transport with existing cargo support equipment

viii.      System must be able to exfil away from drop zone or support rapid destruction and disposal on the ground


Complete the design of the system, demonstrate performance of a prototype system through field testing, develop detailed per unit cost data and production cost projections, and deliver the prototype for subsequent evaluation by the government.



PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The Government has an interest in transition of the demonstrated concept to for use in military application, but the system could also find further applications in the field of search and rescue and disaster support.



Department of the Air Force Operational Imperatives,;
MIL-STD-3028: Joint Modular Intermodal Container;


KEYWORDS: contested logistics, austere operations, airdrop, air delivery, cargo delivery, package delivery