Lockheed Martin has demonstrated unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) using its prototype UAS Traffic Management (UTM) capabilities.

As part of the demonstration, the Stalker XE UAS provided data and a precise location to an unmanned K-MAX cargo helicopter.

The helicopter extinguished a fire at the location, while the UTM tracked its operations and communicated with air traffic control.

Using its electro-optical and infrared camera, the Stalker XE UAS worked in tandem with K-MAX to identify hot spots and fire intensity.

The unmanned K-MAX can fly at any time of day, and provides three times the support of ground firefighters in firefighting operations.

"This demonstration represents the path forward for flying UAS in the NAS."

A solid oxide fuel cell enables Stalker XE to fly for up to eight hours. Its stable and high-definition imaging capabilities allow day and night operations.

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Lockheed Martin transportation and financial solutions vice-president Paul Engola said: "This demonstration represents the path forward for flying UAS in the NAS using Flight Service-based UTM capabilities to extend the technology and systems that air traffic controllers know and understand.

"We were able to successfully modify the existing K-MAX and Stalker XE ground control software to connect to the UTM services and conduct the firefighting mission."

In August 2014, Lockheed Martin successfully conducted a fully autonomous resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target-acquisition demonstration at Fort Benning in Georgia, US.

Undertaken in collaboration with the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Centre (TARDEC), the demonstration used the company’s squad mission support system (SMSS) unmanned ground vehicle, K-MAX unmanned aircraft system (UAS), and Gyrocam optical sensor.

Image: The Stalker UAS directs the unmanned K-MAX cargo helicopter to conduct water drops at a precise location to extinguish a fire. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin Corporation.