Sikorsky Aircraft has announced plans to develop its first Matrix Technology-based aircraft by upgrading a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter into an autonomous, optionally piloted version, following more than a year of prototype design work.
The company said Tuesday the cargo resupply aircraft will utilize autonomy and fleet management technology and feature internal and external cargo capability for up to 9,000 pounds.
“We are considering potential development partners and look forward to working with the Department of Defense and other customers to mature this concept and its associated operations,” said Samir Mehta, Sikorsky’s president of defense systems and services.
Sikorsky worked with the U.S. Army to conduct autonomous flight testing and cargo resupply demonstrations using the UH-60M Upgrade Optionally Piloted Black Hawk early this year under the Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter program.
The “Matrix (program) is maturing technology, advancing the technology readiness level in geek-speak, to give us the confidence to launch products,” added Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations.
“That demonstration and the technology demonstration we did with the autonomous Black Hawk … that gave us the confidence to say let’s start prototyping the first product.”
A Matrix test aircraft, called the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft, is meant to be used in future technology maturation tests.