Unmanned Helo Proving Invaluable in Afghanistan

The Lockheed Martin/Kaman K-MAX unmanned helicopter is proving invaluable to ground troops in Afghanistan, said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John Toolan, former commander of Regional Command-Southwest, who’s just returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. The helicopter, which can haul 10,000 pounds of cargo more than 100 miles, is being used daily to deliver supplies, he told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on April 24. K-MAX platforms currently are operating out of Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province, he said. “Helicopters coming in and out of the zone are pretty susceptible to ground fire. . . . You can shoot at this thing [K-MAX] all you want. Nobody will get hurt,” said Toolan. The original purpose of these helicopters was to save lives by keeping US troops off the roads and eliminating the need for dangerous convoy missions. However, Toolan said he thinks there will be a demand to keep the remotely piloted birds in Afghanistan beyond the withdrawal of coalition combat troops in 2014.