K-MAX deployment extended
Lockheed Martin has announced that two unmanned K-MAX helicopters will remain in theatre in Afghanistan until September on a deployment extension. Between them, the aircraft have delivered more than one million pounds in less than four months in support of US Marine Corps (USMC) operations, the company said in a 9 May, 2012 statement.
Developed in a joint effort by Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace, KMAX is the first unmanned helicopter to deliver cargo and resupply troops in a combat zone. According to Lockheed Martin, they have been keeping a steady pace of six missions per day, with record load deliveries ranging from a single 4,200-pound sling load to 28,800 pounds lifted in a single day. During operations in Afghanistan, previously scheduled to end in June, the aircraft has ‘met or exceeded all expectations with less than one maintenance man-hour per flight hour’. As a result, the USMC has extended the K-MAX deployment through the end of September.
According to the company, the unmanned K-MAX has demonstrated its ability to carry and deliver 6,000 pounds of cargo at sea level and more than 4,000 pounds at 10,000 feet altitude; and is able to carry more cargo on its four-hook carousel to more locations in one flight than any other unmanned rotary wing platform. Its intermeshing rotors eliminate the need for a tail rotor and allow for significantly improved lift performance and lower maintenance costs
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