Aviation equipment supplier Erickson has pitched an autonomous version of its S-64F Air Crane firefighting aircraft to the U.S. Army to help free up the service branch's heavy-lift helicopter fleet, FlightGlobal reported Thursday.
Last year, Erickson formed a partnership with Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky subsidiary to install autonomous features into the S-64 including the sensor-driven Sikorsky Matrix software suite for flight controls.
S-64 features a water tank with a 10,000-liter capacity and is meant to support logistics and training activities to help refocus missions for the Boeing-built CH-47 and the Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters, according to Erickson.
Jeff Baxter, senior director of research and development at Erickson, said the company is yet to conduct flight tests for S-64F+.
Erickson plans to offer F+ configuration updates as well as new airframes for the variant.
Erickson is based in Portland, Oregon, and offers original equipment manufacturer services as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul support for military and civilian customers.