The U.S. Marine Corps plans to deploy the unmanned K-MAX to Afghanistan in November 2011. Following a successful evaluation of the unmanned helicopter, during the five-day Quick Reaction Assessment for the U.S. Navy’s Cargo Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) program, the corps confirmed that the unmanned K-MAX has met and exceeded the Navy and Marines’ requirement to deliver 6,000 pounds of cargo per day.
K-MAX will be the Navy’s first-ever cargo unmanned aircraft system to deploy in an operational environment. The deploying team consists of active duty mission commanders and air vehicle operators of the Cargo Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System (CRUAS) Detachment of Marine Corps VMU-1 stationed at Yuma, Az. company employees will also join the team for the mission. The unit has recently concluded training and flight tests at its base in Twenty-nine Palms, Calif., and is currently preparing the aircraft for shipment into theater. Two helicopters will be deployed to a forward base to be used for the cargo dispatches. Most of the missions will be conducted at night and at higher altitudes, avoiding threat of small arms fire.
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.