The unmanned K-MAX ® helicopter’s peerless ability to resupply combat troops safely, precisely and efficiently has won top honors from the prestigious magazines Popular Science and Aviation Week and has garnered high praise from the U.S. Marine Corps, which is expanding the aircraft’s role in Afghanistan.
“We are proud of the Unmanned K-MAX’s performance in supporting Marines in Afghanistan. The recognition we have received from our Marine Corps customer and other renowned organizations is a great achievement for our employees and our partner Lockheed Martin,” said Neal J. Keating, chairman, president and CEO of Kaman Corporation. “Most importantly, we are proud that Kaman Aerospace’s unique design, engineering, manufacturing and support capabilities are helping to save the lives of U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan.”
The unmanned K-MAX is the heart of the Cargo Resupply Unmanned Aerial System (CRUAS) developed by Kaman Aerospace and Lockheed Martin to augment conventional Marine Corps ground and air resupply methods. Acquired under a contract awarded in December 2010, two of the systems began flying in southern Afghanistan in December 2011. Since then, they have carried more than 2.2 million pounds of materiel to combat forces in over 840 resupply missions. Most importantly, the unmanned K-MAX has reduced the risk of death or injury for Marines who otherwise would have had to move those supplies by manned helicopters or ground convoys.
A November 14 th Marine Corps’ update describes the unmanned K-MAX system as “a combat multiplier” because of its unequalled ability to deliver cargo to troops on the ground “when weather, terrain or enemy actions pose an unsuitable risk” to manned helicopters or ground convoys.The unmanned K-MAX’s life-saving benefits led the editors of Popular Science magazine to name it as the 2012 grand award Winner in Aerospace in their “Best of What’s New” honors, which for 25 years has recognized groundbreaking new technologies. The editors note in their December 2012 issue that, since 2008, roadside bombs and other explosive devices have accounted for more than half of U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan. “The Kaman K-MAX, the first autonomous chopper that's been successfully deployed in Afghanistan, removes troops from the supply delivery lines,” they write.