Over three years’ service in Afghanistan, a tiny flight of K-MAX unmanned helicopters built by Kaman Aerospace and Lockheed Martin , has successfully completed 1,950 sorties, flown 2,150 flight hours, and delivered 4.5 million pounds of cargo to U.S. Marines in the Afghan wilderness — all without suffering a single loss of life in combat.
So naturally, the Pentagon is killing the program.
I was fairly skeptical of the K-MAX drone program at first. I’ve been fairly converted since.
I’m sure the Marines would love to continue to have the capability to deliver cargo at low risk to isolated units.
But this is a niche capability, and the Marine budget simply won’t cover all the “wants” when it can’t even really cover all the “needs.”
The K-MAX works well… in a relatively benign environment. In the face of any air defenses, it would be terribly vulnerable, even more so than most manned helicopters. Losing a drone isn’t a big deal, what with no loss of life, but the failure to deliver cargo would be a big deal.
And it’s not like the capability can’t be regenerated at a later date, even if the airframe used is a different one.