U.S. Marines test K-Max drone cargo helicopter
Jan. 11, 2012, Helmand Province, Afghanistan - The U.S. Marines have begun testing the Kaman K-MAX drone helicopter, the first operational use of a cargo drone.
By Carey Fredericks
Two unmanned K-MAX helicopters and a team of 16 technicians and eight Marines are conducting a six-month evaluation at Camp Dwyer in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
The two aircraft have flown 20 transport missions since the inaugural flight on Dec. 17, carrying nearly 18 tons of cargo. The drone helicopters allow the Marines to send supplies to areas that were previously too dangerous due to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines.
“Every load that we can take off of a ground convoy reduces the danger and risk that our Marines, soldiers, and sailors are faced with,” Major Kyle O’Conner, officer in charge of the detachment, told the Washington Post. “With an unmanned helicopter, even the aircrew is taken out of harm’s way.”
The K-MAX is the latest in a series of Kaman synchronized twin-rotor helicopters dating from the 1950s. The unusual arrangement, with two side-by-side pylons on the helicopter’s roof supporting counter-rotating blades, results in exceptional stability while hovering, and allows pinpoint cargo delivery.
The military will test the K-MAX for six months before it determines whether to put the aircraft into service.