Kaman expects its K-Max optionally piloted vehicle module to enter ground and flight testing during the first half of this year, it announced late last week. The company is continuing to develop a commercial optionally-piloted version while working with the U.S Marine Corps on upgrading the autonomous capabilities of the unmanned K-Max heavy-lift utility helicopter.
“Our team has done a great job assessing the global market, identifying future technologies, and working with potential and existing customers to secure additional orders for our K-Max helicopter,” said Darlene Smith, president of Kaman Air Vehicles/Precision Products Division.
Kaman began accepting customer commitments for the unmanned module last year. It can be applied to either new-build or in-service K-Max helicopters and weighs approximately 200 pounds less than previous versions developed since the 1990s for military applications. In Afghanistan between 2011 and 2014, unmanned K-Max operations replaced the activity of more than 900 ground convoys that would have been forced to traverse perilous roads and possible enemy attack. A pair of K-Max moved 4.5 million pounds of cargo during the deployment.
The company also announced it was delivering a third new K-Max built over the last two quarters and that the helicopter model had recently received Brazilian certification.