recommended reading

Military robo-choppers prove themselves on Afghan battlefields

The Marine Corps has deployed two remotely piloted helicopters to Afghanistan, each of which can airlift 6,000 pounds, and the Army has tested an unmanned ground vehicle that can carry a half-ton load, top service officials told members of the House Armed Services Committee Thursday.

The Marines started using the unmanned K-Max helicopters in Afghanistan in December 2011. Since then, the GPS-guided aircraft "have proven themselves in day and night operations, and bad weather conditions," ferrying cargo to forward outposts without risking the lives of pilots and crews, Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Mills said in response to a question from Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., about battlefield robotics at the hearing of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.

The robo-chopper was developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. in partnership Kaman Aerospace through a $45.8 million demonstration contract awarded in 2010. Lockheed won a $47 million demonstration and evaluation contract from the Army in October 2011.

The Army has deployed a fleet of 2,500 robots, loaded with cameras and sensors, built by iRobot to help ground troops remotely detect crude bombs. Army Lt. Gen. William Phillips, deputy to the assistant secretary of Defense for acquisition, logistics and technology, told Hartzler the robots, which soldiers operate using Xbox-like controllers, work very well in combat.

The Army also has fielded for testing in Afghanistan a large unmanned ground vehicle developed by Lockheed, the Squad Mission Support System, which can carry up to a half-ton of cargo.

The diesel engine powered robot, known as the Workhorse, is operated by a soldier equipped with a vest-mounted computer and radio, but it also can operate autonomously with a built-in GPS navigation system.

Both Mills and Phillips said the Marines and the Army need to develop and field more robotic systems to lighten loads carried by troops in combat.

Threatwatch Alert

Accidentally leaked credentials / Misplaced data

Boeing Employee Emails 36,000 Coworkers’ Personal Info to Spouse

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.