Sikorsky is planning to develop its first product to feature Matrix Technology by converting a retired UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter into an optionally piloted variant capable of a wide range of missions.
With the autonomous Black Hawk, Sikorsky plans to build on the success of its Matrix Technology and Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) autonomy programs to deliver a new level of mission flexibility to combat and logistic planners. The product will integrate autonomy and advanced fleet management technology with refurbishment experience to provide a cost- effective, dependable and sustainable system.
Sikorsky autonomous Black Hawk. Photo courtesy of Sikorsky
The autonomous Black Hawk helicopter will offer the flexibility of internal and external cargo capability, the strength to lift up to 9,000 lbs, and the productivity of high cruise speeds. The design is targeting a system loss rate of one per 100,000 flight hours.
Design of a prototype system has been underway for more than a year, and induction of the first Black Hawk helicopter will begin later this month. Sikorsky will conduct a series of technology maturation tests during the build period using the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), which is based on an S-76 commercial helicopter.
In collaboration with the U.S. Army, Sikorsky successfully demonstrated the ability of a UH-60M upgrade optionally piloted Black Hawk helicopter to conduct autonomous flight and autonomous cargo resupply demonstrations through its MURAL Program earlier this year.
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