Rainy Days Don’t Keep K-MAX Down

The rugged K-MAX helicopter uses its multi-hook carousel system and heli-basket to lift and individually release four, one-ton air drop containers during a November 2010 demonstration and transport a full-size all-terrain vehicle.

When torrential rains recently prevented the use of a heavy-lift crane to erect an electrical power transmission tower, most workers would have called it a day and waited for better weather.

But that didn’t stop a construction crew in Australia. It called in a K-MAX helicopter from Skyworks Helicopters and kept on working. While Australians relied on K-MAX to assemble the unwieldy 120-foot transmission tower, a team on the opposite side of the world, in Connecticut, transported a full-size all-terrain vehicle and performed cargo resupply by parachute. The K-MAX the Australians flew is now being transformed by Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace to do the same heavy lifting—without a pilot at the helm.

In Australia, K-MAX’s external load capacity and precise lift capability helped the construction crew finish a Herculean task in less than a day.  The aircraft’s minimal noise signature and low rotor-wash allowed workers to easily communicate   throughout the process. The aircraft’s precise hovering capability and excellent visibility make it safer and easier to perform meticulous lift work. Its unique multi-hook carousel system features a modular, plug- and -play approach, enabling quick and easy reconfiguration for different cargo lift missions.

Late last year at Kaman’s Connecticut facility, K-MAX’s multi-hook carousel system and heli-basket transported an all-terrain vehicle. And in November,  K-MAX demonstrated variety of unmanned aerial logistics delivery demonstrations for the U.S. Army, including for the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC). In partnership with the NSRDEC, Kaman used the K-MAX to perform multiple cargo air drops, which included lifting and individually dropping four, one-ton air drop containers.

K-MAX can deliver sling loads up to 6,000 pounds at sea level and 4,300 pounds at 15,000 feet.  Its intermeshing rotors eliminate the need for a tail rotor, significantly improve lift performance, and lower maintenance costs. K-MAX requires minimal daily maintenance and doesn’t require special repair facilities.

Lockheed Martin’s mission management and control systems enable autonomous flight in remote environments over large distances and bring advanced UAS command, control and communications to the unmanned K-MAX.

In December 2010, the U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin $48.5 million contract to deliver two K-MAX unmanned aircraft and three remote control ground station systems for a Marine Corps evaluation of unmanned cargo resupply.