by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Oct 26, 2010
Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace have formally offered the K-MAX unmanned helicopter in response to a U.S. Naval Air Systems Command request for a cargo unmanned aircraft system.
Earlier this year, the unmanned K-MAX system successfully demonstrated its ability to resupply troops in a simulated environment similar to forward operating bases in Afghanistan.
Under a contract with the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Lockheed Martin and Kaman successfully flew the unmanned K-MAX at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, meeting or exceeding the requirements that were set.
"The aircraft offers significantly reduced operational and logistics costs compared to transporting cargo by convoy or manned helicopter," said Dan Spoor, Lockheed Martin Aviation Systems vice president.
"We've paired Lockheed Martin's mission management system with the proven rugged K-MAX airframe to give Marines the lift and reliability they need in theater. More importantly, it keeps them out of harm's way."
During the Dugway flights, the unmanned K-MAX demonstrated its ability to hover at 12,000 feet with a 1,500-pound sling load, deliver 3,000 pounds of cargo well within the six-hour required timeframe in two 150 nm round-trip flights, fly remotely controlled, perform a precision load delivery by a ground-based operator in either day or night conditions and upload a new mission plan to the aircraft's mission management system during flight.
The team also showcased the unmanned K-MAX helicopter's four-hook carousel, which enables multi-load deliveries in a single flight.
The aircraft flew to three pre-programmed delivery coordinates loaded up with 3,450 pounds of cargo, and released a sling load autonomously at each location. At the Marine's request, the fourth load delivery was performed under manual control by the ground operator.
This demonstrated capability exceeds all of the performance requirements detailed in the request. Lockheed Martin has teamed with Kaman to offer a proven solution.
Kaman has also performed a cargo airdrop demonstration in partnership with the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center this past April.
"Airdropping cargo as an option to placing a sling load on the ground can enhance an unmanned aircraft's survivability while delivering critical supplies in combat environments," said Terry Fogarty, Kaman Unmanned Systems general manager.
The manned version of the K-MAX has accumulated more than 255,000 flight hours in the commercial logging and firefighting industry. Recently, the aircraft moved 2.5 million pounds of boulders in just over 40 hours at 10,000 feet altitude. Kaman designed the K-MAX helicopter to deliver sling loads up to 6,000 pounds at sea level, and 4,300 pounds at 15,000 feet.
Lockheed Martin's mission management and control systems give the K-MAX helicopter unparalleled flight autonomy in remote environments and over large distances. The team has flown the K-MAX nearly 400 hours in unmanned mode since joining forces in 2007.
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