Big Rotary UAV Planned
The U.S. Marine Corps has approved development of an "unmanned aerial truck" that is an adaptation of the Kaman Helicopters' K-MAX heavy-lift helicopter. The K-MAX has interlocking twin rotors that eliminate the need for a tail rotor and give the aircraft impressive lifting ability. In its UAV form, the aircraft will be able to lift external loads of 6,000 pounds, which is more than 1,000 pounds greater than the aircraft's empty weight. It's partnering with Lockheed Martin on the project.
The partners were recently awarded a $45.8 million contract to build two unmanned helicopters and three ground stations by next August. Kaman says they've already proven the idea will work. "The unmanned K-MAX will enable U.S. and coalition forces to utilize widely dispersed and overextended manned aviation assets for other demanding missions and eliminate aircrew vulnerability to enemy attacks in combat zones."