Air Platforms

Sikorsky demonstrates optionally piloted Black Hawk

23 April 2014
Sikorsky's Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) helicopter being put through its paces during its maiden flight in early March. Image: Sikorsky

Sikorsky has conducted the first flight of its Optionally-Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) helicopter during a demonstration at its West Palm Beach facility in Florida, the company announced on 21 April.

The flight took place at Sikorsky's Development Flight Center on 11 March and saw the OPBH demonstrate autonomous hover and flight operations while under the control of a man-portable ground control station (GCS).

This demonstration was an important milestone in the Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) programme: a collaborative effort between the US Army Aviation Development Directorate (ADD), the US Army Utility Helicopters Project Office (UH PO), and Sikorsky.

For MURAL, the UH PO is providing access to two UH-60MU platforms to which Sikorsky is applying the optionally piloted technology it has been developing since 2007. In 2013 Sikorsky signed a co-operative research and development agreement with the army to advance MURAL to a formal effort to demonstrate the flexibility and value of a full authority flight control system. The effort includes demonstration of expeditionary GCSs and precision control.

A major component of the OPBH is Sikorsky's Matrix technology, which was launched in July 2013 to significantly improve the capability, reliability, and safety of autonomous, optionally piloted, and piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft by affording them a high level of system intelligence.

The MURAL programme is part of a wider US military effort to develop its automated re-supply capabilities on the back of the US Marine Corps' (USMC's) nearly three-year deployment of two Lockheed Martin-Kaman K-MAX unmanned helicopters to Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.

Another ongoing effort is the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) programme being conducted by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). In early April the ONR announced flight demonstrations of the K-MAX and Boeing's Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) in support of AACUS. Of particular interest in these tests was the use of a hand-held tablet to control the helicopters. According to the ONR, a Marine with no prior experience with the technology was given a hand-held tablet and 15 minutes of training during the demonstration tests at Quantico, Virginia.

"The Marine was able to quickly and easily programme in the supplies needed and the destination, and the helicopters arrived quickly, even autonomously selecting an alternative landing site based on last-second no-fly-zone information added in from the Marine," the ONR said.



(385 words)
By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and our Terms of Use of this site.

RELEVANT PROFILE LISTINGS

  • Meggitt Banshee

    Type Recoverable aerial target Development First flown in January 1983, Banshee was designed as a low-cost target system to simulate the threat of missiles and aircraft for gun and missile air defence systems. It has since become one of the most widely used such systems in the world, with over

  • Allsopp Desert Star Helikite

    Type Multi-purpose, scalable, tethered aerostat. Development Development of what Allsopp Helikites claims to be the 'smallest, all-weather, high-altitude aerostats in the world' began during 1993, with significant programme events including: 1995 The Desert Star Helikite was used to provide the

  • Alp

    Established 1998, and on 29 July 1999 became joint venture company with Sikorsky Aircraft Turkey Inc and The Alpata Group (50 per cent each) to manufacture high-technology, precision-machined aerospace and defence components and assemblies for global market. Alp Aviation is Turkey's third largest

  • Northrop Grumman XS-1

    Type Technology demonstrator. Programme On 19 August 2014, Northrop Grumman revealed that, in partnership with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, it was working on the preliminary design and a flight demonstration plan for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Experimental

  • RUAG

    Main aviation product divisions of the RUAG Holding group are Space, Aviation, Aerostructures, Defence and Ammotec (pyrotechnics). Total of some 8,000 staff in Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, France, Austria, Hungary, Australia and the US. RUAG Aviation produces Dornier 228 NG twin-turboprop in its

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT