The US Army practiced drone-assisted battlefield blood delivery in a recent Project Convergence 22 exercise.

An FVR-90 drone flew with blood packages in the Mojave desert, dropping them off at Fort Irwin in a simulated mass-casualty situation. 

The parachute-tethered packages were then dropped to the ground for collection by medics.

Temperature-Controlled Blood Delivery

The L3Harris unmanned aircraft can carry up to 22 pounds (10 kilograms) for a maximum distance of 250 miles (402 kilometers), remaining aloft for up to 12 hours.

The drone’s autonomous portable refrigeration unit keeps the blood refrigerated throughout the journey, Stars and Stripes reported

Multinational partners conduct medical experimentation as part of Project Convergence 22 at Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 7, 2022. Image: Spc. Collin S. MacKown/ US Army

Lessons From Past Conflicts 

Army medical officials recommended drone-assisted blood delivery as one of seven research fields to improve the Pentagon’s blood supply program in the summer.

Lessons from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict informed the recommendations, the outlet wrote, citing service researchers.

Costs Less Without Risking Lives

The US enjoyed “complete air superiority” in Iraq and Afghanistan, which allowed safe and speedy evacuations of wounded soldiers by helicopter.

However, against a more capable adversary with modern air defenses and aircraft, the situation would be more challenging, the outlet observed.

“I think it’s going to come down to drone delivery of blood by some type of unmanned vehicle that can fly in and drop off more blood or more bullets, whatever is needed,” the outlet quoted US Air Force Col. Stacy Shackelford as saying.

Apart from being speedier and safer, drone-assisted blood supply also costs less than other methods.

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