By Kalwinder Kaur
The deployment extension of K-MAX Cargo UAS has gained approval from the U.S. Marine Corps for the second time in 2012. This first unmanned helicopter has been designed to serve major purposes such as resupplying troops in a combat zone and cargo delivery.
The Marine Corps provides forward operating bases with K-MAX rather than manned aircraft, or ground convoy. Personnel therefore experience less threat created to them by improvised explosive devices.
The aircraft was requested by the Marine Corps in the beginning of this year. The aircraft was jointly developed by Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace, and will remain in theater through September 30. This deployment extension advances the K-MAX service in Afghanistan for six more months, with an option to have an extended time period through September 2013.
According to Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander of Naval Air Systems Command, K-MAX has demonstrated its potential to operate as a convenient and efficient cargo resupply aircraft capable of protecting lives. By deploying this aircraft, there will be no need for manned ground convoys. Also, there will be less number of warfighters being threatened by improvised explosive devices.
Established to strengthen Joint Urgent Operational Need Statement created by the Marine Corps in 2010, this K-MAX program has soared up to 525 hours, to 485 sorties, and has carried over 1.6M-lb of cargo since its arrival in theater during November 2011. In May, the aircraft successfully achieved a "hot hook-up," through which personnel can equip the cargo to the unmanned aircraft under hover mode. This capability supports retrograde missions, making K-MAX more efficient.