The US Marine Corps has awarded a contract to Boeing to demonstrate the A160-Hummingbird, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which could be used to deliver important cargo to front-line soldiers.
During the three-day test flights scheduled for February 2010, the company will prove that the helicopter can deliver cargo weighing at least 2,500lb from one simulated naval base to another daily in under six hours.
The 35ft-long helicopter features 36ft rotor diameter with a unique optimum-speed-rotor technology that enhances overall performance by adjusting the rotor's speed at different altitudes, gross weights and cruise speeds.
In addition, the helicopter can be suspended at an altitude of 20,000ft and can travel at a moderate speed of above 140kt.
The marines are examining the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in place of trucks and personnel to deliver supplies as part of the US Marines immediate cargo unmanned aerial system demonstration programme.
Boeing received the $500,000 contract from the US Marine Corp Warfighting Laboratory.