Kaman Helicopters’ K-Max “unmanned aerial truck” has delivered nearly 200,000 pounds of cargo since the helicopter entered service in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps on December 17. To date, two of the pilotless, heavy-lift helicopters have logged about 100 hours in the skies over Afghanistan on cargo missions.
During a recent mission on Sunday, an unmanned K-Max delivered 14,000 pounds of cargo in Afghanistan over four sorties in less than 24 hours, Kaman Helicopters division president Sal Bordonaro told AIN. “This helicopter delivers cargo more cost-efficiently, and saves lives,” he said, compared with road convoys that require aerial support and are more prone to attacks, both by gunfire and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hidden in dirt roads.
Kaman, which developed the unmanned helicopter in partnership with Lockheed Martin, is awaiting a potential order from the U.S. Marines for more pilotless ships. If this contract materializes, Bordonaro said the company will restart K-Max production, and it is now readying to do so. The last K-Max came off the production line almost 12 years ago, but for now there is no firm date set to restart manufacturing.