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Marine Corps extends K-MAX Afghanistan deployment to 2013

by Mike Hoffman on August 7, 2012

The Marine Corps has approved another deployment extension for its experimental K-MAX unmanned cargo-carrying aircraft in Afghanistan.

This is the second extension for the K-MAX, a move that will keep platform in theater until March 30, 2013 with an option to stretch it to the following September, according to a Lockheed Martin press release. The Corps recently extended the first deployment K-MAX from May until Sept.30.

“K-MAX has proven its value as a reliable cargo resupply aircraft and an asset that saves lives,” Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander of U.S. Naval Air Systems, which manages the K-MAX program with the Marine Corps, said in the release. “The use of this aircraft eliminates the need for manned ground convoys, reducing the number of our warfighters exposed to improvised explosive devices.”

The two K-MAX unmanned helicopters being tested in Afghanistan have accumulated 525 flight hours during 485 sorties, while handling as much as 4,500 pounds of cargo per mission.

K-MAX features Kaman’s high-altitude, heavy-lift K-1200 airframe and Lockheed Martin’s mission management and control systems, enabling autonomous flight in remote environments over large distances. The helicopter can fly at higher altitudes with a larger payload than any other rotary wing unmanned aerial system, according to Lockheed Martin officials.

K-MAX will be among the highlighted products at Lockheed Martin’s booth at the Association of the Unmanned Vehicle Systems North America 2012 show August 6–9 in Las Vegas.

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