|Guided with input from a Stalker XE drone, the Unmanned K-MAX drops water during a demonstration in Rome, New York. Photo courtesy
of Lockheed Martin
November was a busy month for the K-MAX.
Kaman Aerospace Group said on Nov. 23 it had received its first orders for the coaxial utility helicopter from a Chinese customer. The manufacturer said Lectern Aviation Supplies Co., Ltd., an aircraft and parts dealer and aviation services company based in Hong Kong, ordered two K-MAX aircraft for delivery in 2017. The aircraft are intended for firefighting duties with China’s forestry department.
“The Chinese market possesses significant market potential for the K-MAX, and we are working to capitalize on these additional opportunities,” said Kaman’s K-MAX business director, Terry Fogarty.
Earlier, on Nov. 18, Lockheed Martin paired the Unmanned K-MAX with a fixed-wing Stalker XE drone for a demonstration in Rome, New York, of the teamed aircraft’s firefighting potential and of a new unmanned aircraft traffic management system.
L-M, which is partnered with Kaman to promote and sell the Unmanned K-MAX, developed the traffic management system. It also produces the Stalker, which fed precise geolocation data and other information to the K-MAX for fire-attack work.
Rome was where the Unmanned K-MAX first demonstrated its firefighting capability in October 2014, deploying in tandem with an Indago quad-rotor drone to identify and extinguish ground fires. In October 2015, L-M and Kaman took the Unmanned K-MAX to the Lucky Peak Helibase in Boise, Idaho, headquarters of the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center, for another firefighting demonstration for officials of the U.S. Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service. The interagency center coordinates U.S. wildland firefighting efforts.
The Interior Dept.’s interest in the Unmanned K-MAX as a firefighting tool had contributed to Kaman’s decision in mid-2015 to restart K-MAX production after a 12-year lapse. The Bloomfield, Connecticut-headquartered manufacturer’s decision came after K-MAX orders from Rotex Helicopter AG of Switzerland and Helicopter Express of Chamblee, Georgia.