Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Unmanned cargo helicopter under development

Known as the 'aerial truck', the K-MAX transports cargo through the lift method. The K-Max has a quiet counter-rotating intermeshing rotor design which eliminates the need for a tail rotor, and is capable of lifting 2 tons up to 15,000 feet, or up to 3 tons at lower elevations The piloted version has already accumulated more than 200,000 flight hours.

How will tomorrow’s soldiers get fresh water, ammo and supplies under heavy fire in a combat zone? One answer might be an armed, armored and unmanned variant of the Lockheed-Kaman K-MAX chopper, being developed under a multiyear, $3.5 million deal with the Army’s Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), according to Kaman officials.

The idea is to reduce risk to other choppers and convoys, and to get supplies to places trucks can’t go, said Terrance Fogarty, Kaman’s director of K-MAX programs...

Last year, the early prototype of the unmanned K-MAX completed an unrefueled 12-hour test flight around New England, autonomously navigating preprogrammed waypoints with GPS.

Read the rest at Army Times