The Marine Corps plans to continue testing a Lockheed Martin-developed cargo unmanned helicopter currently deployed in Afghanistan, DoD Buzz reports.
The Marines have two K-MAX unmanned helicopters that have been deployed since Dec. 17.
The aircraft are operated by contracted Lockheed controllers.
The helicopters have flown more than 250 missions and fly over 14,000 pounds of cargo a day.
Col. Doug Hardison, a Marines aviation official, said the Marines plan to put the aircraft through additional tests once it completes its Afghanistan deployment.
Hardison said the Marines have not pushed the envelope in testing the K-MAX, currently restricted to certain flight ceilings in order to avoid other aircraft.
The Marines plan to test the aircraft at additional altitude levels after its deployment phase and could potentially launch a program to train Marines to fly the aircraft without contractors.
The Army indicated it will observe the Marine Corps’ testing instead of pursuing its own separate project.
Jeanine Matthews, Lockheed’s business development director for integrated defense technologies, said the Army has not contacted Lockheed for an agreement to lease the K-MAX aircraft to deliver cargo in Afghanistan for Army units.
The helicopter went through series of assessments at the Army’s Fort Benning, Ga.-based Annual Expeditionary Warrior Experiment last year.