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K-Max Comes Home

Unmanned cargo resupply copter returns after long deployment

The Lockheed Martin/Kaman Aerospace Corporation K-MAX cargo unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has returned to the United States after a successful deployment to Afghanistan lasting nearly three years.

Undergoing an extended user evaluation during the deployment, the K-MAX helicopter lifted more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo and conducted thousands of delivery missions for the Marine Corps, according to a Lockheed Martin press release.

K-MAX Afghanistan

An U.S. Marine Corps cargo resupply unmanned aircraft system (CRUAS) with Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 3, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), takes off from Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 1, 2012. VMU-3 was testing the capabilities of the CRUAS. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Keonaona C. Paulo

The K-MAX, distinguished by Kaman’s trademark intermeshing rotor system, can lift 6,000 pounds of cargo at sea level, and is capable of flying cargo delivery missions day and night. It is outfitted with a Lockheed Martin mission package of systems and sensors.

In 2011, K-MAX became the first unmanned helicopter to deliver cargo in theater for the U.S. Marine Corps. The K-MAX was undergoing evaluation in theater to explore whether unmanned aerial cargo delivery could reduce the number of truck resupply convoys and their troop escorts, keeping them from becoming targets of improvised explosive devices and insurgent attacks.

K-MAX night

A U.S. Marine Corps Cargo Resupply Unmanned Aircraft System (CRUAS) assigned to Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 (VMU-1) carries cargo at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 11, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ashley E. Santy

“We are proud to welcome home the unmanned K-MAX Team from their successful deployment in theater,” said Dan Spoor, vice president of Aviation and Unmanned Systems at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “K-MAX exceeded expectations as an unmanned platform in keeping our troops out of harm’s way, and we continue to develop onboard technology and autonomy for future military and civil missions.”