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  • Army Plans K-Max Afghan Cargo Demo
    Posted by Graham Warwick 4:36 PM on Aug 18, 2010

    The US appears determined to get umanned cargo aircraft to Afghanistan, but hook or by crook. While the US Navy dots the 'i's and crosses the 't's on an RFP for the US Marine Corps' Immediate Cargo UAS requirement, the Army plans to award Lockheed Martin a contract to use the unmanned Kaman K-Max to demonstrate autonomous capabilities before deployment.

    blog post photo
    Photo: Lockheed Martin

    The presolicitation notice from the Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate comes as a bit of a surprise because, until now, the Marines have been taking the lead on cargo UAS - although there is Army and special-operations interest. But the notice says AATD's new Autonomous Technologies for Unmanned Air Systems (ATUAS) program will support the Marine Corps' urgent need.

    The notice says Lockheed will get the ATUAS contract because only it can provide a robust demonstration platform quickly, with the required airframe maturity, the ability to carry multiple loads totalling 6,000lb and the capability to be optionally-manned. All of which points to the K-Max, a single-pilot commercial external-lift helicopter that Kaman and Lockheed have modified for unmanned operation.

    The K-Max is one of the candidates for the Marine Corps cargo resupply requirement, which calls for a military utility assessment in Afghanistan in 2011, potentially followed by contracts for ongoing resupply services - similar to the ISR services Boeing and Insitu provide in theater with the ScanEagle. Boeing's A160T is also a candidate, and others might bid. The RFP is imminent.

    Tags: ar99, unmanned, AATD

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