June 8, 2009 The most successful military commanders in history have been master logisticians in addition to master tacticians – you can’t fight effectively if you don’t have all that you need. These days computers aid logistics immensely, but they’re just about to add a whole new dimension by flying the cargo aircraft too. Boeing is the first to submit a platform for the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory's Immediate Cargo Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Demonstration Program: the A160T Hummingbird autonomous unmanned helicopter with a healthy 2,500-pound payload.
The A160T features a unique optimum-speed-rotor technology that significantly improves overall performance efficiency by adjusting the rotor’s speed at different altitudes, gross weights and cruise speeds. The pilotless aircraft is 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter, has hovered at 20,000 feet and has cruised at more than 140 knots. The A160T established a world endurance record in its class last year with an 18.7-hour unrefueled flight.
"The Marines have identified an urgent need for unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver supplies in lieu of putting trucks and personnel on dangerous roads," said John Groenenboom, A160T program manager for Boeing. "The A160T was designed from inception as a UAS with significant payload-carrying and high-altitude-operation capabilities, so we are confident in its ability to meet the requirements of this critical mission."
The demonstration contract is expected to be awarded in July. Boeing will demonstrate it can deliver 2,500 pounds of cargo per day from one simulated forward-operating base to another in fewer than six hours per day for three consecutive days. The demonstration program could lead to future business opportunities.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a USD$32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.