Team K-MAX Receives US Marine Corps Contract To Demonstrate Unmanned Cargo Delivery
Kaman Aerospace Corporation has received a contract from the US Marine Corps on behalf of Team K-MAX to demonstrate the ability of the Unmanned K-MAX helicopter to deliver cargo to troops in extreme environments and at high altitudes.
Kaman will award a subcontract to Lockheed Martin to integrate a beyond line of sight data link and unmanned aerial system (UAS) mission management system with its proven aerial truck.
Comprised of Kaman and Lockheed Martin, Team K-MAX will demonstrate the unmanned helicopter's capability to deliver cargo to a round trip distance of 150 nautical miles. The Marine Corps objective is to move 20,000 pounds of cargo in a 24 hour period. The demonstration is scheduled for late 2009.
The Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, VA., developed the urgent requirement for a cargo UAS that can support rapid deployments to Afghanistan by resupplying troops with provisions and materials at forward operating bases.
"This award is an important first step for Team K-MAX as both companies move forward to provide the Unmanned K-MAX to the warfighter," said Sal Bordonaro, president, Kaman Helicopters Division. "The demonstration to the Marine Corps will verify the capabilities of the Unmanned K-MAX to deliver external loads in hot ambient conditions at high altitudes."
"The Unmanned K-MAX meets the Marine Corps' urgent need to field a cargo UAS to perform the troop resupply mission currently performed by ground convoys and manned aircraft," said Jeff Bantle, vice president of Rotary Wing Programs at Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY. "Lockheed Martin will provide the mission management and flight control systems to ensure performance reliability in the rigorous high altitude environmental conditions inherent to Central Asia."
Designed and built for repetitive lift operations in severe environments, the 5,100-pound K-MAX helicopter can lift 6,000 pounds - more than its own weight - at sea level. Superior lift performance is derived from the aircraft's counter-rotating intermeshing rotor design that eliminates the need for a tail rotor. Operated by the logging and construction industries for its highly reliable and low flight and maintenance costs, the manned K-MAX fleet has accumulated more than 244,000 flight hours since 1994.
In 2008, Team K-MAX twice demonstrated the aircraft in unmanned mode to the US Army and Marine Corps. The demonstrations included autonomous take-off and landing, pick-up and delivery of a 3,000-pound sling load, and the ability to autonomously re-plan and detour from its designated route to accommodate changes to mission requirements and battlefield threats.
Kaman Helicopters, a division of Kaman Aerospace Corporation, is a member of the Kaman Corporation group of companies, which conducts business in the aerospace and industrial distribution markets. The group is a subcontractor for complex metallic and composite structures and components for commercial, military and general aviation aircraft; designs and manufactures fuzing devices for the US and allied militaries; and markets and supports its SH-2G and K-MAX helicopters.
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