Innovation Propels Lighter Helicopter
Anything that flies has an inherent weight problem. Airplanes are designed to be as lightweight as possible, so they can maximize their mission – be it armaments or people – while still being capable of taking off and maneuvering.
This challenge is magnified for helicopters. The engine must lift the aircraft and its cargo vertically, making it advantageous to reduce the weight of the airframe and mission equipment and leave room for greater payload capacity. To mitigate this issue, Lockheed Martin engineer, Brian Kaplun, led one of Lockheed Martin’s mechanical design teams in developing the first-ever Lockheed Martin nano-composite avionics unit, the Remote Processor Unit (RPU). This new design and material set reduces the weight of the processor unit on the aircraft.
“There is always a benefit to making things lighter, and the ability to reduce cost is an added bonus,” Kaplun said. “Removing weight from the electronics affords more room for mission equipment, such as armaments and fuel.”
Originally developed and produced by Lockheed Martin's aeronautics division, the proprietary polymer gives Lockheed Martin a cost and weight advantage over companies using aluminum for these types of applications.