Lockheed Martin has just finished a test run on a K-Max cargo helicopter, which has been transformed into an unmanned helicopter, capable of carrying loads which are then dropped, with a parachute, in order to resupply troops behind enemy lines or in rough terrain areas, with ammunition or equipment.
Thanks to a carousel with four hooks, this unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is capable of reaching different destinations over the course of a single mission, with up to four airdrops within a single trip, thus optimizing resources and allowing to save precious time and money.
The development of this unmanned vehicle is being taken care of, in cooperation with US Army, by Lockheed Martin and Kaman; the latter’s Connecticut airfield has witnessed the first operating tests. Thanks to mission management and control systems supplied by Lockheed Martin, the operating range of these helicopters, currently deployed in Afghanistan, can be stretched forward.
In fact, their load capacity can reach up to 3000 kilos, with a maximum height of approximately 5000 meters. Just to have an idea, Boeing’s Hummingbird UAV, lately mentioned on these pages, can only carry up to 1200 kilos of equipment, and on a single drop.
Thanks to its wide operating range, and to the ability to fly autonomously at long distances and in harsh environment, it will be possible to user K-Max both during the day and by night, exploiting its bulky load and the airdrop functions to minimize risks both for troops on the ground and for the vehicle itself.