By Kalwinder Kaur
Within four months, over 1M pounds have been achieved with two unmanned K-MAX helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. As part of the deployment extension, it will continue to stay in theater till September.
Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace together developed the aircraft, which is the first unmanned helicopter that supplies cargo and resupplies troops in a combat zone. Standardized rate of six missions per day has been maintained with record load deliveries representing from single 4,200-lb sling load to 28,800 lb being lifted per day. The aircraft has complied or even surpassed all standards with one maintenance man-hour per flight hour or less for Afghanistan mission that formerly scheduled to June end. This will contribute to Marine Corps’ extension of K-MAX deployment by the end of the fiscal year, September 30.
Lockheed Martin's Mission System & Systems business director of Airborne Systems, Roger II Grande says that the aircraft's potential to carry out autonomous repetitive lift and its rugged design has been reflected through the record lift and the in-theater’s readiness numbers. The increasing deliveries with unmanned K-MAX will help eliminate the opposition's intent to undermine Lockheed’s IED objectives.
The unmanned K-MAX represents its proven capability to both lift and deliver 6,000 lb of cargo at sea level and over 4,000 lb at 10,000 ft altitude. More cargo can be loaded to the aircraft’s four-hook carousel. It is capable of carrying such heavy loads at one flight to more locations compared to other unmanned rotary wing platform. The in-built intermeshing rotors replace a tail rotor giving rise to enhanced lift performance and reduced maintenance costs.