UAS Demonstrated Autonomous And Remote Control
Lockheed Martin Corporation and
Kaman Aerospace Corporation have successfully demonstrated to the
U.S. Marine Corps the capability of the Unmanned K-MAX helicopter
to resupply troops by unmanned helicopter at forward operating
bases in Afghanistan. During a series of flights last week in
subfreezing temperatures at the U.S. 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 resupply
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 (above, right) performed operationally
representative cargo resupply 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
U.S. Marine Corps contract awarded to K-MAX manufacturer Kaman
Aerospace in August 2009. A manned version of K-MAX
(above) has accumulated more than 250,000 flight hours,
conducting repetitive lift operations for the construction and
logging industries worldwide.