Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Firefighting Interest Fed K-MAX Move
Interest in the Unmanned K-MAX as a firefighting tool may have played into Kaman Corp's decision to restart production of the base, counter-rotating-rotor helicopter. Kaman's Aerosystems division and Lockheed Martin have been talking with the U.S. Interior Department since early 2014, when the department first approached them about using the unmanned version of the heavy-lift utility help to combat wild fires. That interest was spurred in part by the Unmanned K-MAX's success in flying re-supply missions for the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2014; the aircraft delivered more than 4.5 million pounds of cargo in more than 1,900 missions. (Kaman builds the aircraft, which Lockheed Martin outfits with an advanced mission suite.) The companies last October demonstrated the Unmanned K-MAX's ability, teamed with an Indago quad-rotor unmanned aerial system, to identify and extinguish ground fires. A second demonstration is set for this October in Boise, Idaho, home of the National Interagency Fire Center. A key advantage of the unmanned system is that it can attack fires around the clock; manned firefighting aircraft can't attack at night or in degraded visual conditions.