STRATFORD, Conn., April 22 (UPI) -- An optionally-piloted variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter has been put through its paces by Sikorsky Aircraft.
The demonstrator aircraft -- from the company’s Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter Program, or MURAL -- was flown in cooperation with the U.S. Army, using Sikorsky’s Matrix technologies and advanced ground control station technologies.
“The autonomous Black Hawk helicopter provides the commander with the flexibility to determine crewed or un-crewed operations, increasing sorties while maintaining crew rest requirements,” said Mark Miller, Sikorsky vice president of Research & Engineering. “This allows the crew to focus on the more ‘sensitive’ operations, and leaves the critical resupply missions for autonomous operations without increasing fleet size or mix.”
Sikorsky said MURAL, introduced last year, is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Aviation Development Directorate, the U.S. Army Utility Helicopters Project Office and Sikorsky. MURAL systems and software will improve the capability, reliability and safety of flight for autonomous, optionally-piloted, and piloted vertical take-off and landing aircraft
Sikorsky has been developing the technology for the optionally piloted aircraft since 2007 and signed a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement with the U.S. Army to advance the program.