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Kaman to close K-MAX production line

One of the two Lockheed Martin-converted Kaman K-MAX optionally manned helicopters during a trial with the US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Lockheed Martin)

Kaman Corporation announced it will end the K-MAX production line, citing “low demand and variation in annual deliveries, coupled with low profitability and large working capital inventory requirements”, according to an 18 January statement.

The line is scheduled to close in the first quarter of the fiscal year (FY) 2023, after a 60-platform production run of the specialised cargo helicopter.

In 2010, the US Marine Corps (USMC) purchased two K-MAXs, modified by Lockheed Martin to be optionally manned and designated CQ-24A. From 2011 to 2014, the USMC deployed the K-MAXs to southern Afghanistan, where they flew thousands of resupply missions to deliver 4.5 million lb (2.04 million kg) of cargo to isolated outposts, according to Lockheed Martin.

Though retired after their return from Afghanistan, the USMC reactivated the K-MAXs in 2021 “to support future unmanned efforts”, said Kaman at the time.

The USMC had not responded to Janes questions on K-MAX at the time of publication.

Kaman continues to produce the Kargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a fully unmanned quadcopter. In October 2022, the USMC purchased a prototype Kargo vehicle under the Medium Unmanned Logistics Systems-Air (MULS-A) programme.

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