Excitement is in the air at Kaman Helicopters as important new programs take flight, and the Kaman Aerospace Group continues to make strategic acquisitions that significantly enhance the company’s design and manufacturing capabilities.
The unmatched lifting capability of the K-MAX helicopter is fueling new opportunities as a manned and unmanned platform. As this issue of Rotor & Wing goes to press, a Kaman-Lockheed Martin team (Team K-MAX) had just been awarded a $45.8 million contract to provide cargo resupply services to the
U.S. Marine Corps. The contract includes development of two air vehicles, three remote ground control stations and a Quick Reaction Assessment. There is also an option for a six–month deployment.
The unmanned K-MAX system has successfully demonstrated its ability to resupply troops in a simulated environment. The unmanned helicopter boasts a four-hook cargo carousel, which makes K-MAX capable of delivering more cargo to more locations in one flight than any other unmanned rotorcraft. K-MAX can carry 2,721.6 kg (6,000 lbs) of cargo at sea level and more than 1,814.3 kg (4,000 lbs) at 10,000 ft. The high-profile military success is expected to lead to similar sales of manned or unmanned K-MAX helicopters to international customers that require a high-altitude workhorse aircraft for humanitarian aid, resupply, firefighting, construction, and similar missions.
Innovation in helicopter composite rotor blade technology is a rapidly growing business at the Kaman Helicopter HeliworX™ full-service aerospace innovation and manufacturing support center, where the company plans to double sales in the year ahead.
In addition to establishing a manufacturing facility in Mexico, and expanding its rotor blade center of excellence, the company is producing the initial production standard composite rotor blades for the AH-6 “Little Bird,” with the MD 500 and 600 Series helicopters to follow soon after. Kaman is also building helicopter blade skins and skin core assemblies for Bell helicopters and other customers.
The company has introduced a three layer, color specific (for visual inspection) sprayable erosion coating that has significantly extended the lifespan and reduced the life cycle costs of U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter main rotor blades. Currently, 100 Black Hawk helicopter blades are being coated at Kaman each month, with around 1800 blades coated to date. U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and international customers are evaluating the coating to protect blades on Apache, CH-53E, UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopter and several other platforms.
Kaman is the only certified facility authorized to apply the Hontek coating. Backed by Kaman’s infrastructure and expertise, HeliworX is the only subcontractor with the OEM advantage capable of offering design/analysis, manufacturing, upgrade, modifications and test and flight solutions. Other capabilities include integration, composite and metallic manufacturing, final assembly, rotor blade whirl towers, and sand erosion test facility and flight test.
Kaman continues to actively market 11 highly capable and mission-ready Seasprite SH-2G(I) helicopters to international naval customers. The aircraft variants are capable of antisurface warfare and anti-submarine warfare, and offer an affordable small ship capability. The Egyptian Air Force is entering its 12th year of successful robust performance of its SH-2G(E) helicopter fleet. Other international militaries using the Super Seasprite include the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Poland Navy.