International Interest Increasing for K-MAX Unmanned Cargo Helicopter


The U.S. Marines began using two K-MAX unmanned helicopters developed by Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace to resupply forward operating bases in December. Since then, K-MAX has delivered more than one million pounds of cargo, while maintaining an overall 95 percent mission availability rate.

People around the world are noticing.

While the Naval Air Systems Command recently extended K-MAX’s in-theater assessment period until the end of the U.S. government’s fiscal year on Sept. 30, a number of NATO countries have also expressed an interest in the unmanned cargo resupply aircraft.

"We have a tremendous amount of interest out there at the moment," said Jim Naylor, Lockheed's K-MAX business development director in an April 13 Flight International article.

The Marines flew the first unmanned resupply mission on Dec. 17, delivering approximately 3,500 pounds of cargo as the Marines seek to reduce the risk of insurgent attacks and improvised explosive devices on truck convoys and the soldiers protecting them.

“K-MAX has proven its value to us in-theater, enabling us to safely deliver cargo to forward areas,” said Marine Corps Maj. Kyle O’Connor, who is overseeing the deployment. “We can move cargo without putting any Marines, soldiers or airmen at risk.”

K-MAX features Kaman’s proven high-altitude, heavy-lift K-1200 airframe and Lockheed Martin’s mission management and control systems, enabling autonomous flight in remote environments over large distances. The helicopter can fly day or night and at higher altitudes with a larger payload than any other rotary wing unmanned aerial system. With its four-hook carousel, K-MAX can also supply multiple locations in one flight.


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