WEBSTER FIELD, Md., Aug. 1 (UPI) -- An unmanned helicopter used by the U.S. Marines for delivery of supplies to forward-deployed troops will continue to be operated in Afghanistan.
The deployment extension of the K-MAX Cargo UAS was to have ended in September. Under the new contact option exercised, the innovative aircraft will remain in theater an additional six months.
The K-MAX unmanned aerial system was developed by Kaman Helicopters and Lockheed Martin to meet a 2010 Joint Urgent Operational Need request from the Marine Corps. Since its deployment to Afghanistan last November it has flown 485 sorties (amounting to 525 hours flying time) and carried more than 1.6 million pounds of cargo.
"K-MAX has proven its value as a reliable cargo resupply aircraft and an asset that saves lives," said Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander of Naval Air Systems Command, which manages the K-MAX program for the Marine Corps. "The use of this aircraft eliminates the need for manned ground convoys, reducing the number of our warfighters exposed to improvised explosive devices."