Kaman  Helicopters has a long history of taking an… unconventional approach to solving the challenges of rotary winged flight. A few years ago, they looked at the issue of helicopters with external loads, and decided that what was needed was something smaller than the enormous CH-54 Skycrane. But to maximize the external load, as little helicopter as possible would be used. And rather than the traditional crew of two, it would only use one pilot. Little helicopter, big load.

Taking the idea even further, and teaming up with LockMart, they decided no pilot was an even better option. Pretty soon, they’d paired up with the Marines to test this unmanned helicopter for delivering supplies to remote outposts in Afghanistan. Flying in supplies by helo reduces the number of ground convoys needed, reducing their vulnerability to IEDs. And by using an unmanned helicopter, that reduces the risk to aircrews, and frees up conventional helicopters for troop movements or evac missions or other uses.

I’m not entirely sold that this is an especially cost effective program, but it is pretty interesting to watch.

5 thoughts on “KMax”

  1. I don’t see how this should be all that expensive a program. It’s basically building a robot that picks something up at point A and puts it down at point B, something routinely done in grade school robotics classes. The only real hard part, getting the helicopter and load from point A to B, should have had most of the heavy lifting (heh) done by the FireScout program.

  2. I was in the Navy a few years back (I think it was 1998) and they were trying the K-Max (manned) for supply ship to carrier resupply. It would have been replacing a H-47. It was superb in the role and a third the size of what it was replacing.
    What happened? The same thing that always happens, Sikorsky has pull and Kaman does not…..
    Sikorsky is a typical defense contractor. They only push technology forward when they have to and when the Federal Government drives up to their door with a truckload of money.
    They recently created the X2 helicopter which has some amazing technology. Why? Because the Osprey was leaving their helicopters in the dust (no matter what you think of the Osprey, just looking at its speed and range makes helicopters obsolete). But they only plan to roll it out as a small attack helicopter first, since it is one of the few helicopter niches they do not fill right now…. (why would they rush to make the H-60 Obsolete? They will make the Services pay a couple of Billion first)
    Sorry, did not mean this to turn into an Anti-Sikorsky rant. But I live in CT and have had friends who worked there and they used to fire half their workforce every time they did not get a contract. Eventually they got pulled before Congress for the practice and got slapped down…

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