Lockheed Martin is preparing to participate in a series of demonstration flights aimed at confirming the capability of its K-Max unmanned air vehicle (UAV) to transport and deploy an autonomous ground vehicle.
The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV will carry a Lockheed squad mission support system (SMSS) during the US Army-led trials at Fort Benning, Georgia, US, next month, reported Flightglobal.
Lockheed Martin K-Max business development director Jon McMillen said: "This will be getting assets in the air to move things on the ground. This is really a proof-of-concept of how this will happen."
While K-Max is capable of carrying loads of up to 6,000lb, the SMSS weighs approximately four to 5,000lb.
The UAV is also scheduled to undergo additional trails as part of the army’s autonomous technologies for unmanned aircraft systems (ATUAS) programme in the coming months, to help evaluate the modifications.
K-Max had already demonstrated multiple vehicle-agnostic autonomous capabilities during a previous testing in 2013, according to the news agency.
"We are essentially extending that work that we did. We’ve been doing refinements and will be ramping up the flight testing portion," McMillen added.
The UAV has already been deployed in a cargo-transport role in Afghanistan, where it successfully carried 4,500lb payloads in the hot and high conditions.
A derivative of the manned Kaman K-MAX power-lift helicopter, K-Max is a rugged UAS capable of autonomous or remote controlled battlefield cargo resupply missions.
Meanwhile, Lockheed is reportedly to certificate the UAS for flight in US civil airspace, which is claimed to open up use in fire-fighting applications.
Image: A K-Max unmanned air vehicle in Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of Cpl Justin M Boling.