The U.S. Army is currently testing an unmanned Black Hawk helicopter that will one day be able to deliver cargo and supplies to troops without requiring an actual pilot.
The first test of the helicopter, built by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, was completed in March of this year and showed promising results.
The vice president of research and engineering at Sikorsky, Mark Miller, said that the unmanned drone helicopters will be able to provide flexibility to commanders looking to increase sorties while maintaining rest requirements of the crews by allowing for both manned and un-manned operations.
“This allows the crew to focus on the more ‘sensitive’ operations, and leaves the critical resupply missions for autonomous operations without increasing fleet size or mix,” he added.
The helicopter is a part of Sikorsky’s Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) program that has been underway since 2007. Last year the Army awarded the company additional funding to expand its research and development of drone technologies.
“These technologies are designed to enhance the capability, affordability , readiness, and safety of Department of Defense aviation systems,” the director of the U.S. Army Aviation Development Directorate, William Lewis, said.
“The optionally piloted Black Hawk helicopter functionality stands to bring added value to aviation systems, through the innovations being tested on the Black hawk helicopter in the MURAL program.”