Marine Corps extends K-MAX Afghanistan deployment to 2013

The Marine Corps has approved another deployment extension for its experimental K-MAX unmanned cargo-carrying aircraft in Afghanistan.

This is the second extension for the K-MAX, a move that will keep platform in theater until March 30, 2013 with an option to stretch it to the following September, according to a Lockheed Martin press release. The Corps recently extended the first deployment K-MAX from May until Sept.30.

“K-MAX has proven its value as a reliable cargo resupply aircraft and an asset that saves lives,” Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander of U.S. Naval Air Systems, which manages the K-MAX program with the Marine Corps, said in the release. “The use of this aircraft eliminates the need for manned ground convoys, reducing the number of our warfighters exposed to improvised explosive devices.”

The two K-MAX unmanned helicopters being tested in Afghanistan have accumulated 525 flight hours during 485 sorties, while handling as much as 4,500 pounds of cargo per mission.

K-MAX features Kaman’s high-altitude, heavy-lift K-1200 airframe and Lockheed Martin’s mission management and control systems, enabling autonomous flight in remote environments over large distances. The helicopter can fly at higher altitudes with a larger payload than any other rotary wing unmanned aerial system, according to Lockheed Martin officials.

K-MAX will be among the highlighted products at Lockheed Martin’s booth at the Association of the Unmanned Vehicle Systems North America 2012 show August 6-9 in Las Vegas.

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Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • john moore

    How long you planning on staying there?

    Dosent seem like there in any hurry to wrap things up

    • Anonymous

      The military isn’t in any rush to get out of Afghanistan. They’ve already spent 11 years there – it’s not like any more loss of life or money will be noticed.

    • No use in ending a war that can’t ever be won.

    • Chris

      We are going to be there at least another 10 years or so.

    • ayy ka
  • blight_

    Contractors probably still manning the things.

    As for how long in AfPak, we’ll see. There is a subset of the Isolationists who want a strong military at home. There is a subset of peaceniks who want America “out of the war business”.

    • nahc4

      But without our war business how will we make money? :[

      • blight_

        War was a pretty darn good business. The Europeans have already learned that with the absence of a domestic military, the only way to keep military/aerospace going is the export market.

        We’re pretty much on the way there. We are the Microsoft of defense/aerospace. I guess Russia (or Russia/Europe?) can be scrappy, innovative Apple that is working to nibble on market share and Israel can be Linux…

  • Musson

    Looks like a giant flying insect.

    • Jeff

      I thought it reminded me of a dragonfly…

  • Capt Ahab

    The USAF screwed itself out of a mission, light tactical resupply, with the cancellation or pending cancellation of the C-27J… replaced by this system and contractor based air mobility…

  • jsallison

    I want to beat our enemies @$$3$ into the dust so that they absolutely *know* they are dogmeat and then remake them into something more tolerable than what caused us to go. If we’re not up to doing that then it’s time to cut the line and move on. Decade+ long running sores are not the American way of war.

    I’m tending towards the idea also that PGMs aren’t necessarily the best tool for the job. They’re too surgical, leave the civilian populace too detached. Give the Sherman Doctrine a try and make the sea in which the fish swim (the civil population) sick of the whole damn thing.

    You make war seeking to break the will of the enemy command structure. This necessarily include the civilian populace as without their support, overt or otherwise, there is no fight.

    • carlos

      Then you should sign up for the infantry Patton.

      • Johnny Ranger

        No sugar honey ice tea….

    • blight_

      If that were true, siccing the Indians on the rebellious colonies and burning your way through the Deep South should have been sufficient to cow them.

      Funny how the things you think you know are directly refuted from history.

      Unless you think the Patriots successful use of harassment and killing are a perfect example of the Sherman doctrine implemented by the insurgency…and well emulated by the Taliban, but with the sharia twist of targeting girl’s schools and women with day jobs.

    • UAVGeek

      If we really wanted to subdue Afghanistan we’d be practicing hydraulic despotisim, however this isn’t what this fight is about. Rules 34 of the Rules of Acquisition goes as follows: “War is good for business”

  • Hunter76

    Of course, robofighters are the future. But one shouldn’t be surprised about the strength of the moral outrage nonAms can bring against automated killing machines.

  • John

    I personally don’t see much reason to stay in Afghanistan anymore

  • Shamus62

    If it takes a pilot, copilot, and a least a crew chief (and maybe a door gunner) out of the mix, and potential danger, I’m all for it. Smarter not harder, right?