A day of celebration at Lockheed Martin as it welcomed home its K-Max helicopter, which has been in service since 2011. The unmanned drone was primarily used for transporting cargo. But as Alexa Green reports, it has an ever more important role, keeping soldiers safe.
OWEGO N.Y. -- Nearly three years in service, delivery of 4.5 million pounds of cargo, and more than 2,000 hours in flight. Those are just some of the accomplishment's of Lockheed Martin's K-Max helicopter.
"The hours that this aircraft flew and the missions that it flew, revolutionized aviation forever," said Daniel Schultz, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training Vice President
On Thursday, Lockheed Martin along with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps held a celebration to welcome it's K-Max helicopter home. The unmanned drone was the first of it's kind, to deliver food, cargo other materials during its service in Afghanistan.
"The goal was to minimize the danger in harms way that marines and sailors and soldiers and contractors were facing in the country because of the geography and because of the terrain in Afghanistan," said Major Kyle O'Connor of the United States Marine Corps.
U.S. Marines say the explosive-covered roadways in Afghanistan were too dangerous for convoys. They say if materials were transported on the ground, countless lives would have been in jeopardy. The K-Max helicopter was a solution to that problem.
"The convoys are always in harms way when they're going outside the safe zones so the nice thing about the K-Max or the Cargo UAS is we can take some of the burden of having to move those regular logistic runs and take them off the street and put them in the air," Major O'Connor said.
As for the the K-Max helicopter, it will be primarily used for testing and demonstrations, but officials say they're open to other options in the future.