Solving an Age-Old Problem

Unmanned K-MAX offers simple, safe solution to supplying troops


file Developed by Lockheed Martin and Kaman, the Unmanned K-MAX helicopter offers a simpler, safer solution for supplying military bases and outposts.

Popular history glorifies Hannibal for crossing the Alps to battle the Romans 2200 years ago. But it wasn’t his elephants that carried the day. Rather, Rome’s Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus ultimately repulsed the Carthaginian invaders by becoming one of the first strategists to understand the importance of disrupting the enemy’s supply chain.

These age-old lessons haven’t been lost over the centuries, and armies still grabble with them today. In Afghanistan, that nation’s mountainous terrain, poor to non-existent roads and insurgents with their improvised explosive devices create a risky logistical nightmare for providing Coalition troops with everything from ammunition to water.

The Unmanned K-MAX helicopter offers a simpler, safer solution for supplying bases and outposts scattered throughout the country. Developed by Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace, the Unmanned K-MAX helicopter has successfully conducted multiple logistics resupply demonstrations via sling-load delivery.  Most recently, the Unmanned K-MAX delivered multiple guided and unguided airdrop payloads during a demonstration at the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz.

“This was a very impressive and successful demonstration,” said Richard Benney, leader of the Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Aerial Delivery Equipment and Systems Division. “Increasing unmanned cargo helicopter delivery options will ensure our combat troops receive supplies in denied environments and complete their missions with less risk to all. The Unmanned K-MAX met all of our objectives and we’re working to transition this capability to the warfighter."

In four demonstration flights, Unmanned K-MAX successfully airdropped 16 payloads, including 10 guided by the Global Positioning System-based Joint Precision Aerial Delivery System (JPADS) at 9,200 feet.  The Unmanned K-MAX used the optionally-piloted capability for the drops to expedite the demonstration, with the ground control station used in the unmanned configuration remotely releasing two payloads.

The Unmanned K-MAX was developed by integrating KAMAN’s proven high-altitude, heavy-lift K-1200 airframe with Lockheed Martin’s mission management and control systems enabling autonomous flight in remote environments over large distances.