US Army looking to resupply troops via mortar bombardment

These artillery shells are packed with bullets, not explosives.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

The US Army is working on a new means of rapidly resupplying its troops using hollowed out artillery shells. The system, while still in its concept phase, could eventually help deliver critical ammunition and medical equipment to its forces, even in the middle of a firefight.

The proposed system, dubbed the Ammunition Resupply Projectile (ARP), uses a standard mortar round that's had its explosive payload removed. Instead, that cavity can be packed with up to 150 5.56-millimeter rounds, surveillance equipment -- even submunitions to target enemy forces.

Once the round hits the apex of its flight, the outer shell will detach from the payload, which ejects towards its intended target. To keep the cargo from being smashed when the mortar hits the ground, the shells are equipped with a "a steerable decelerator system," according to the Picatinny Arsenal. A GPS receiver and electronic navigation system help guide the rounds. The ARP system has a reported range of several kilometers yet is accurate to within 10 meters of its programmed target.