Unmanned helicopters made in CT help fight fires, wars

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (WTNH)– Pilot Bill Hart flies a Kaman K-max helicopter made right here in Connecticut, but it can now fly without him or any pilot. Kaman and Lockheed Martin have made gigantic jumps in unmanned technology.

One K-Max has just returned from Afghanistan where it flew 2,000 missions in 33 months without a pilot. It delivered ammunition, food and supplies to Marines in far-reaching outposts on the front lines. Kaman’s CEO says the K-Max keeps pilots out of harms way on dangerous missions and convoys safe at base.

“In the last year we were in Iraq, as an example, 95-percent of the injuries came from I.E.D.’s, so if you think about how important it is to keep those men and women and those convoys off the road, what we were able to provide is a great service,” said Kaman CEO Neal Keating

The military is using drones, but those are for recon and attacks; this is completely different, a helicopter without a pilot that can interact with the troops on the ground and even save a life and go in for a rescue. Keating says it is the way of the future, that now includes civilian firefighting. Kaman did an unmanned test flight for the federal government that happened last week in New York. The CEO says the helicopter was able to scoop water from a pond and deliver 3,000 gallons of water an hour to a fire, and there are no time limits like there are with human pilots.

“What this enables them to do is to fight fires 24 hours a day, seven days a week and contain fires more quickly,” said Keating.

It can be flown on the ground with a controller, or use pre-programmed software, and is expected to prove its firefighting capabilities in 2015.

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