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News

Unmanned Supply Helicopter Demonstration to US Marines


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Lockheed Martin Mission Systems And Sensors
: 09 February, 2010  (New Product)
The K-MAX unmanned helicopter from Kaman and Lockheed Martin has undergone a successful demonstration to the Marine Corps of its capabilities as a front line troop supply aircraft
Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace have successfully demonstrated to the US Marine Corps the capability of the Unmanned K-MAX Helicopter to re-supply troops by unmanned Helicopter at forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

During a series of flights last week in subfreezing temperatures at the US Army's Dugway Proving Ground, UT, the Unmanned K-MAX demonstrated autonomous and remote control flight over both line-of-sight and satellite-based beyond line-of-sight data link.

'We met or exceeded the requirements within the scheduled three-day timeframe of the demonstration,' said Dan Spoor, Aviation Systems vice president at Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems & Sensors facility in Owego, NY. 'The system performed a rigorous set of cargo re-supply scenarios as programmed, allowing the ground-based operator to monitor progress, and make adjustments to aircraft positioning only when requested by the Marine Corps for demonstration purposes.'

Performance attributes demonstrated included hovering at 12,000 ft. with a 1,500-pound sling load; delivering 3,000 pounds of cargo well within the six-hour required timeframe to a forward operating base (two 150 nm round-trip flights); remotely controlling flight and a precision load delivery by a ground-based operator in both day and night conditions; and uploading a new mission plan to the aircraft's mission management system during flight.

As an optional demonstration, Team K-MAX showcased the Unmanned K-MAX helicopter's four-hook carousel, which enables multi-load deliveries in a single flight. Lifting a total cargo of 3,450 pounds, the aircraft flew to three pre-programmed delivery coordinates, autonomously releasing a sling load at each location. At the customer's request, the fourth load delivery was performed under manual control by the ground operator.

'The Unmanned System performed operationally representative cargo re-supply scenarios, and each time the system delivered as promised,' said Sal Bordonaro, President, Kaman Helicopters, a division of Kaman Aerospace Corporation. 'This capability gives the Marine Corps a proven unmanned power lifter to bring vital cargo to troops on the battlefield without the need for ground vehicles and manned helicopters.'

Team K-MAX has flown the Unmanned K-MAX nearly 400 hours in unmanned mode since 2007. The demonstration fulfilled an $860,000 US Marine Corps contract awarded to K-MAX manufacturer Kaman Aerospace in August 2009.

A manned version of K-MAX has accumulated more than 250,000 flight hours, conducting repetitive lift operations for the construction and logging industries worldwide.
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