The purpose of this article is to introduce the Container Transport System (CTS) and explain the capabilities it brings to both the warfighter and the emergency management executive.
A guest post from Marc Diaz
The idea for the CTS came from my experience in disaster response. Incredibly, on August 17th, I experienced a significant 6.3 magnitude earthquake in my second home in Bogota, Colombia. When the earthquake struck I was at my desk working on the design for CTS!
I’m proud to say that I kept my cool. I grabbed my keys, wallet, phone and passport before I left my apartment.
Experience has demonstrated that there are unforeseeable logistical bottlenecks in wartime and disasters.
There is a need for a low-cost and readily available method of transporting cargo in infrastructure-compromised conditions.
Simply put, this means getting critical cargo across different modes of transport, across bottlenecks and having it arrive in good condition. And all of this must be done in austere and difficult conditions.
The CTS provides a new capability to do just this. It can be used for disaster relief in Haiti or to deliver artillery ammunition to Taiwan.
The CTS allows critical material to move between transport nodes in emergencies. It removes the need for specialized equipment or personnel to do this.
CTS is a single snap-together kit to turn any LD-3 container into a cargo cart.
These containers are used by commercial aircraft and are found in great numbers all over the world.
A Natural Disaster Vignette
As an unplanned side note, I must relate to a recent experience.
The earthquake I experienced was a minor inconvenience.
However, some problems became immediately apparent.
While traveling I came across roads that had significant damage.
The picture below shows some of it.
But it gives a first-hand account of how easily roads can become impassible to vehicular traffic.
On August 14 2021, a massive earthquake struck Haiti.
A large area was cut off from aid when the only bridge was damaged and unable to bear vehicular traffic. Cargo could be brought to one side of the bridge.
But, then it had to be manually unloaded, put on carts and then carted across the bridge.
Critical supplies arrived very quickly. However, bottlenecks like this prevented rapid distribution leading to countless deaths and untold suffering.
The picture below shows supplies being offloaded from a truck onto a cart. The truck had reached a bridge that was damaged and could not handle vehicular traffic.
This caused a substantial delay.
On the other side of the bridge, the cargo was then reloaded onto another vehicle for onward movement.
The picture below is a contemporary view of the actual damaged bridge. You can see men on the left hand carrying critical reinforcing beams across.
On the right is a rendering of the CTS at work. Which is more efficient?
This situation repeats itself again and again. And it isn’t limited to natural disasters.
A Wartime Vignette
What if I told you that the USAF or RAF could increase its airlift fleet by hundreds of aircraft?
And what if I told you that those aircraft could deliver critical supplies in a tactically relevant way? And that it could do so in a dispersed and survivable manner.
CTS allows that. In minutes a single Airbus A 320 could deliver 10 tons of supplies to an airfield. It could unload in minutes and the cargo could be transported using civilian pick-up trucks directly from the tarmac.
How useful would that be when the 1st Tank Guards Army is moving through Lithuania?
It can be done. By using commercial aircraft and CTS massive amounts of cargo can be moved quickly.
Just as importantly it can be distributed quickly.
There are two parts.
The first is the LD-3 container family.
This is a container that is used by commercial jet aircraft to carry cargo or baggage. There are over 200,000 of these worldwide and they are compatible with most commercial jetliners.
There are two types. The LD-3 containers come in two principal sizes.
The first is the LD-3 which fits wide-body aircraft.
The second is LD-3-45. This fits the Airbus A320 of narrow-body jetliners and some smaller turboprop aircraft.
Here are the dimensions of an LD-3-45.
The picture below shows LD-3 containers being loaded onto an aircraft.
The picture below shows three LD-3s inside a Cessna SkyCourier aircraft.
The second component is the CTS itself.
This is a standardized module that converts the LD-3 into a cart that can be moved by trains, planes, automobiles and muscle power.
The module itself is universal, requires no tools for assembly and is designed for low-cost mass production. The intention is to consider this as an attritable piece of material. It can also fit inside an LD-3 itself so is self-transportable inside the aircraft.
The pictures below show the CTS components, an assembled CTS and the CTS with two different container types.
The cargo is held by raised flanges and yellow nylon cargo straps.
Below you can see pictures of how man-powered carts are used in developing countries.
I can personally verify that heavy loads are routinely moved by a single person over large distances.
Here are the current problems with moving cargo in wartime or crisis conditions.
- Loads may have to be broken apart moving from one mode of transport to another. This leads to confusion and missing components.
- Breaking loads apart causes damage due to handling.
- Material is damaged due to exposure to the elements.
- Material is damaged due to contact with water from lack of dunnage.
- The movement of cargo is difficult between different modes of transport.
- Once delivered to a depot the material is hard to reposition. Remember, depots can be quite large.
- It is hard to move cargo accord gaps and through constrained areas. (My recent personal experience confirms that these gaps are to be expected.)
- Typical peacetime and non-crisis situations rely on dedicated equipment. Typically these are forklifts, trucks and the like. In wartime and crisis situations these are in high demand, concentrated in areas likely removed from the current demand and are difficult to maintain.
The CTS solves these problems.
- The CTS itself can fit into the LD-3 containers. CTS allows every component within those containers to stay together from the point of dispatch to the point of use.
- The material does not have to be manhandled in transit reducing damage.
- The LD-3 protects cargo from the elements.
- The CTS keeps the material up and out of the water.
- Using the CTS material can be transported on planes, trains, trucks, most civilian automobiles and by muscle power.
- The CTS allows rapid movement within depots.
- The CTS eases movement across gaps and constrained areas. For example, if the roads have multiple gaps then planks can be used to cross or they can be moved off-road around the gaps. Then the CTS is shuttled to the next gap and so on. Same with constrained areas.
- With a maximum weight of 1,800 lbs the system and cargo can be moved by the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Yaris and Kia Sportage. Google says that these are the three most popular cars in Poland. In short, this system can be moved by readily available means.
The CTS is an affordable and rapidly producible capability.
It provides a low-cost and readily available method of transporting cargo in infrastructure-compromised conditions.