Lockheed Martin Corporation and Kaman Aerospace Corporation have successfully transformed Kaman’s proven K-MAX® power lift helicopter into an unmanned aerial system (UAS). Its mission: battlefield cargo resupply for the U.S. military.
Team K-MAX has flown the UAS nearly 400 hours in autonomous mode since joining forces in 2007. The system can lift and deliver a full 6,000 lbs of cargo at sea level, and more than 4,000 pounds at 15,000 ft density altitude.
Team K-MAX demonstrated the unmanned cargo resupply mission capability to the U.S. Marine Corp during three days in late January, 2010 at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The system showcased autonomous and remote control flight via both line-of-sight and satellite-based beyond line-of-sight data link.
The demonstration flights met or exceeded cargo resupply scenarios likely to be encountered in Afghanistan. Flight scenarios demonstrated included the ability to:
- hover at 12,000 ft. density altitude with a 1500-pound sling load
- deliver 3,000 pounds of cargo well within the six-hour required timeframe to a forward operating base (two 150 nm round-trip flights)
- remotely control flight and a precision load delivery by a ground-based operator in both day and night conditions
- upload a new mission plan to the aircraft’s mission management system while in flight
- deliver four loads totaling 3,450 pounds in a single flight to four separate destinations.
The UAS will remain optionally piloted in order to easily move the aircraft short distances or to conduct post maintenance check flights.
The manned version of the K-MAX is used for repetitive lift operations by commercial operators for the construction and logging industries. To date, the fleet has accumulated more than 250,000 flight hours since 1994.
K-MAX is a registered trademark of KAMAN Aerospace Corporation