Passing the Test

Lockheed Martin’s Desert Hawk, K-MAX, Nighthawk unmanned aerial systems shine at Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment


file The Desert Hawk III hand-launched unmanned aerial system was one of three Lockheed Martin products that received rave reviews during the recent Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment at Fort Benning. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army.

During the annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE), soldiers test some of the latest equipment being developed and provide feedback to the defense industry community. At last month’s AEWE in Fort Benning, Ga., soldiers from the 29th Infantry Regiment liked what they saw from three Lockheed Martin unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

The Desert Hawk III hand-launched UAS and K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopter received rave reviews, according to a Nov. 13 Army Times article  that solicited feedback from soldiers on 35 tested systems. The Nighthawk micro UAS being upgraded by Lockheed Martin and Applied Research Associates also earned kudos.

The following are excerpts about the Lockheed Martin systems from the Army Times article.

  • Desert Hawk III: "The ground station and remote video terminal proved easy to master. And the color and IR video feeds are strong. One operator, battling high winds, spotted something amiss in a tree line. With a 10-second turn and a 10-power zoom, he was able to identify an enemy truck in hiding. The UAS sent an eight-digit grid, and an artillery battery sent a virtual barrage."
  • K-MAX: "The first thing soldiers want to do is fly it via remote control, but the autonomous capability really makes the difference. Just plot the flight plan and the unmanned helicopter is ready to go — and the flight plan can be changed en route."
  • Nighthawk: "Launch and recovery is easy, allowing the ground controller to loiter over a target or provide recon of a specified location….UAVs are prevalent, and platoon platforms such as Nighthawk provide better coverage at greater range, operators said."

AEWE is the Army’s only live, large-scale prototype experiment and gives the Army Test and Evaluation Command an opportunity to examine new products for current and future uses.

"One of the key ways the Army can get at determining what the force needs is through experimentation," said Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, Fort Benning’s commanding general, in a Nov. 18 article appearing on the Army’s website. "Thanks to industry, research and the centers of excellence working together, we get the equipment in Soldiers' hands earlier. It's about fixing things from the bottom up… AEWE provides a venue for some of that vital dialogue to occur."

Posted December 28, 2011