Unmanned helicopter development moves forward
The US Navy has announced that it has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $45.8 million to prepare the unmanned K-MAX helicopter for deployment. The K-MAX helicopter is an unmanned aircraft designed for forward deployment for unmanned cargo resupply.
"The K-MAX UAS was specifically designed for the battlefield cargo resupply mission," said Dan Spoor, Lockheed Martin Aviation Systems vice president. "K-MAX's capabilities directly answer the Marine Corps' requirement to augment ground and air logistics operations, supplement rotary-wing assets and keep warfighters supplied and out of harm's way."
The money in the contact is intended to allow for the delivery of two K-MAX vehicles and three remote control ground stations to the Marine Corps for a Quick Reaction Assessment. The aircraft is capable of carrying 6000 pounds of cargo at sea level and more than 4000 pounds of cargo at 10,000 feet.
The aircraft uses an interesting intermeshed rotor system that eliminates the need for a traditional tail rotor. The elimination of the tail rotor allows the helicopter to improve lift and reduce maintenance costs. The K-MAX has a four-hook carousel to allow the aircraft to make multiple supply drops at different locations.
"K-MAX is the optimal choice for an affordable unmanned cargo delivery capability," said Terry Fogarty, Kaman Aerospace Unmanned Aircraft Systems general manager. "With reduced operational and logistics costs, increased fuel savings and less manpower required compared to a ground vehicle convoy or manned helicopter, the K-MAX is the lowest-risk solution for the mission."