View Full Version : Corps to open competition for cargo-carrying UAVs

08-26-2009, 12:11 PM
Corps to open competition for cargo-carrying UAVs

By Amy McCullough
The Corps is keeping its promise to develop an unmanned cargo helicopter for resupplying Marines operating out of isolated bases in Afghanistan, with tests planned for two candidates in the coming months.
Later this year, a team from Kaman Aerospace Corp. and Lockheed Martin will demonstrate the Unmanned K-Max helicopter, according to a news release. Additionally, Boeing intends to show its A160T Hummingbird to the Corps by February.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, which awarded the contracts to demonstrate the unmanned aircraft, was unable to discuss details of either test, but Marine officials have said as recently as April that the service wants an aircraft capable of carrying thousands of pounds of food, water, ammunition and other staples to those Marines based in the most austere parts of Afghanistan.
Specifically, the Corps is looking for an unmanned vehicle that can deliver at least 10,000 pounds of cargo during a 24-hour period, although the ultimate goal is 20,000 pounds. Additionally, the Corps wants an aircraft capable of flying 173 miles roundtrip, according to its initial solicitation to the defense industry.
The goal is to protect pilots from anti-aircraft fire and protect ground convoys from roadside bombs, Brig. Gen. Andrew O’Donnell, former capabilities development director for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said during a convention of the American Society of Naval Engineers outside Washington, D.C., earlier this year.
“There are lots of switchbacks, lots of danger on the roads of Afghanistan,” O’Donnell said. An unmanned cargo robot could take “hundreds, or even thousands,” of Marines off the roads, he said.
The 5,150-pound K-Max was designed for repetitive lift operations in severe environments, according to the Lockheed Martin news release. The 41-foot aircraft can lift 6,000 pounds at sea level and can fly 92 mph when loaded, Kaman Vice President of Engi*neering Cliff Gunsallus said.
Boeing’s 35-foot Hummingbird has a 2,500-pound payload and has flown at more than 161 mph, according to a news release. It weighs 5,500 pounds.