Lockheed Martin has flown its Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) technology aboard a Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk testbed helicopter for the first time, the company announced on 6 June.
The flight, which took place at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility in Florida on 29 May, marked the official start of the flight trials programme for the OPV technology following an earlier test aboard a S-76B Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA) testbed helicopter.
"This is the first full authority fly-by-wire retrofit kit developed by Sikorsky that has completely removed mechanical flight controls from the aircraft," Lockheed Martin said.
The OPV trials form part of a wider effort being led by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to demonstrate unmanned helicopter operations under its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) programme.
With the S-76B SARA helicopter having previously utilised Lockheed Martin's 'MATRIX Technology' to demonstrate automated take-off and landing, obstacle avoidance, automatic landing zone selection, and low-level contour flying, the UH-60A will continue flight-envelope expansion trials through to the third quarter of this year.
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