In the past several years, relief operations in war-torn or underdeveloped nations have shared a common denominator: each depended on air traffic controllers and engineers (as well as expensive privately contracted civilian logisticians) to open, operate, and rehabilitate dilapidated airport and harbor facilities. Once operational, unloading critical items in a permissive (peaceful) or non-permissive (hostile) environment can consume precious time, especially if sealift and airlift assets are urgently needed elsewhere. Poorly maintained lines of communication and a lack of allterrain vehicles add to the confusion and further slow down getting aid into hands of a displaced person (DP); until said equipment arrives in-theater and engineers repair the road and rail network, perishable food commodities and critical and essential medicines to sustain life accumulate in a warehouse or rot in the open air.
Parachute drops and the use of transport helicopters are the only alternatives for the delivery of aid in such cases; the former is inefficient while the latter expensive to procure, maintain, and operate, and contributing nations make too few available for detached service in operations of that kind for fear of them being shot down. Current options for meeting the logistical challenge are in need of a tune up as the tempo and diversity of natural- and man-made disasters — Complex Emergencies — spreads from underdeveloped nations — the traditional epicenter — to developed nations. Thus, international and domestic relief organizations require an alternative capability to respond to such outbreaks since both constitute the vanguard of Complex Emergency management.
The answer necessitates fielding an aviation design that integrates a genuine stealth capability; a simple, yet sophisticated fuselage economical to manufacture; payload dimensions capable of deploying abundant quantities of aid workers and relief packages; and, a radius enabling it to travel over extended distances and terrain barriers. Such an aviation design once existed in the inventory of some militaries — the glider. Cost-effective and combat-proven in diverse geographic regions accents the credentials of these silent wings and makes it an attractive candidate for contemporary procurement and deployment in Complex Emergencies and other operations other than war (OOTW), an argument that this article intends to prove.
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