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Lockheed and Kaman to Work on Unmanned Cargo Aircraft for Army

The u.S. military has invested heavily in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). These primarily perform reconnaissance and intelligence collection missions although they and the C.I.A. have used them for strike missions against limited target sets. As with lots of different countries across the globe the U.S. is looking at other roles for these systems with an eye to freeing up manpower or providing better force protection through limiting exposure of troops.

At the end of last year the U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Kaman (KAMN) a contract to develop the K-MAX cargo helicopter into a unmanned resupply system. That contract was worth about $45 million. Now the U.S. Army has followed suit.

They awarded the two companies a similar contract with a value of up to $47 million. This is to also look at making the K-MAX into an unmanned cargo helicopter with a goal of reduced workload and increased accuracy.

The K-MAX is a rather unique looking aircraft with twin intermeshed rotors that carries a decent load externally. It has been developed for use in logging and cargo operations.

The Army and Marine Corps are also looking at using unmanned ground vehicles to provide supply in combat areas. These include a range of vehicles from ones that accompany troops to carry their gear to bigger systems that would replace the current manned trucks carrying large amounts of fuel and cargo. This kind of technology has the potential to free up troops from these missions as well as provide a way to transfer cargo safely.

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