The test trials were set out for the chopper by the US Marines as part of their immediate cargo unmanned aerial system project.
During the pre-programmed and remote-controlled flight tests, the pilotless K-MAX moved 3,000lb using two 150nm round-trip flights within the required six-hour timeframe.
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors vice-president Dan Spoor said the system performed a rigorous set of cargo resupply scenarios as programmed, allowing the ground-based operator to monitor progress, and make adjustments to aircraft positioning.
The K-MAX chopper remained in touch with its ground station using both line-of-sight communications and satellite relay, and demonstrated the ability to upload a new flight plan in the air.
In addition, the K-MAX team demonstrated the unmanned chopper’s four-hook carousel, which allows multiload deliveries in a single flight.
The aircraft flew to three pre-programmed delivery coordinates lifting a total cargo of 3,450lb and autonomously releasing the load at each location.
A fourth load delivery was performed under manual control by the ground operator.
The K-MAX chopper is said to be best suited for Afghan operations where supplies often need to go by helicopter to forward bases that are under fire.