By By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief | August 20, 2014
An autonomous resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance and target-acquisition demonstration was been completed using a Lockheed Martin unmanned Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) deployed by a Kaman K-MAX unmanned helicopter.
The test between Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) was held at Fort Benning, Ga. and labeled ‘Extending the Reach of the Warfighter through Robotics.'
The unmanned Kaman K-MAX delivered the SMSS by sling load which then completed a number of tasks during its mission to a village defended by friendly forces. At the end, the SMSS used a Gyrocam sensor to scan the surrounding area for hostile activity.
Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin
"The synergistic use of unmanned air and ground vehicles will give warfighters a larger operational reach, and allow execution of missions that are currently performed at great risk to the warfighter," said Dr. Paul Rogers, TARDEC director.
The unmanned K-MAX helicopter has already proved its worth to the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) after completing a long test deployment with them to Afghanistan. During that time, it became the first unmanned rotorcraft to deliver cargo to the USMC in a conflict zone.
"Fully autonomous capabilities, as we've just demonstrated, will allow service members to focus on important missions and remain out of harm's way," said Scott Greene, vice president of Ground Vehicles for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control stated that the combination of the unmanned air and ground vehicles was now proving that soldiers could be kept out of harm’s way in certain missions.
Both SMSS and K-MAX were equipped with mobile satellite communications (SATCOM) systems as well as local line-of-sight communications systems. A remote operations center equipped with SATCOM controlled and monitored the vehicles' activities throughout the demonstration.