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Marine's Bullish on Unmanned Helicopters For Aerial Resupply of Far Flung Ground Units

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Supplying widely dispersed ground units in Afghanistan remains a challenge in search of a solution. Helicopters, the preferred means of transportation on that austere battlespace, are in short supply; moving troops has priority over beans and bullets. The Army has used air drops, but certain items are better not dropped from a plane.

Out in Utah’s remote, high desert plateau, the Marines have been testing a couple of rotary wing aircraft for unmanned aerial resupply. Boeing’s Phantom Works built A160T Hummingbird autonomously carried 1,250-pound sling loads over two 150 nautical mile roundtrip flights. The Lockheed Martin-Kaman team’s K-MAX unmanned helicopter flew a similar mission profile.

We shot some video of mock ups of both aircraft, and interviews with company reps, at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Expo outside Washington, D.C.

-- Greg Grant

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