Unmanned helicopter completes air drops

Feb. 24, 2011 at 7:45 AM
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YUMA, Ariz., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- An unmanned K-MAX helicopter successfully made multiple guided air drops in Arizona recently and achieved other "firsts" during tests with the U.S. Army.

The vehicle is made by Kaman Aerospace Corp. in partnership with Lockheed Martin, which designed the helicopter's mission management and control systems.

Kaman said that in four flights at the Army's Yuma Proving Ground the K-MAX successfully air dropped 16 payloads.

Payloads included medical equipment, food, simulated leaflets and bulk cargo.

Kaman and the Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center said among the "firsts" achieved by aircraft during testing were:

-- Largest payload, 4,400 pounds, air dropped via sling load from a helicopter (in four 1,100-pound payloads).

-- The highest altitude for payloads air dropped from a sling load (10,000 feet above sea level).

-- The first air drop of four guided JPADS systems from a sling load.

-- The first air drop for the High Altitude Low Opening parachute system from a helicopter sling load (prototype HALO Leaflet Delivery System).

-- First demonstrated non-line-of-sight ability to dynamically re-task slingload JPADS ground target points.

"This was a very impressive and successful demonstration," said Richard Benney, division leader, Aerial Delivery Equipment and Systems Division of NSRDEC. "The Unmanned K-MAX met all of our objectives. Transitioning this capability to the warfighter could be the next step."

The K-MAX is being developed to meet an urgent U.S. Marine Corps requirement for cargo unmanned aircraft systems.

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