The Marine Corps will deploy the Lockheed Martin and Kaman unmanned K-MAX® to Afghanistan next month.
The decision follows the successful completion of a five-day Quick Reaction Assessment for the U.S. Navy's Cargo Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program.
A formal report, released last week by Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force, confirmed that the unmanned K-MAX exceeded the Navy and Marines' requirement to deliver 6,000 pounds of cargo per day.
"This announcement underscores K-MAX's strong performance and the strength of the Lockheed Martin/Kaman team," said Dan Spoor, Vice President of Aviation Systems in Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems & Sensors. "We are fully prepared to deploy our system and augment Marine Corps ground and air logistics in Afghanistan."
K-MAX will be the Navy's first-ever cargo unmanned aircraft system to deploy in an operational environment. The deploying team recently concluded training and flight tests at its base in Twenty-nine Palms, California, and is currently preparing the aircraft for shipment into theater. The team consists of active duty mission commanders, air vehicle operators and Lockheed Martin employees.
"I am very confident in both the team and the K-MAX UAS to successfully perform their missions while deployed," said Rear Admiral Bill Shannon, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. "K-MAX has the capability to quickly deliver cargo, thus getting troops off the roads and allowing them to focus on other missions."
"We are extremely honored to have been selected for deployment by the Navy," said Sal Bordonaro, Division President at Kaman Helicopters. "We are committed to providing the Marine Corps with the life-saving unmanned capability of our proven airframe, reducing the risk to our forces by taking the cargo resupply mission from the ground to the air."
Since partnering in 2007, Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace have successfully transformed Kaman's proven K-MAX power-lift manned helicopter into a UAS capable of autonomous or remote controlled cargo delivery.
Kaman designed the K-MAX platform, and Lockheed Martin has designed the helicopter's mission management and control systems to provide the K-MAX with exceptional flight autonomy in remote environments and over long distances.