This Sikorsky 5.2-ton Black hawk is the world’s biggest Remote Controlled helicopter. The Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) Demonstrator developed in cooperation with the US Army.
The Sikorsky RC Black Hawk demonstrated the helicopter’s capabilities for the first time in an autonomous cargo delivery exercise at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center.
The Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) Demonstrator, known as Sikorsky’s Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) Program, conducted the successful first flight demonstration on March 11 at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Center. The demonstration was conducted through the use of Sikorsky’s Matrix™ Technologies and advanced Ground Control Station (GCS) Technologies.
The OPBH demonstrated autonomous hover and flight operations while under the control of a man-portable GCS, demonstrating the capability for expeditionary operations and critical cargo resupply.
“The autonomous Black Hawk helicopter provides the commander with the flexibility to determine crewed or un-crewed operations, increasing sorties while maintaining crew rest requirements. This allows the crew to focus on the more ‘sensitive’ operations, and leaves the critical resupply missions for autonomous operations without increasing fleet size or mix,” said Mark Miller, Sikorsky Vice President of Research & Engineering.
The MURAL Program is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Aviation Development Directorate (ADD), the U.S. Army Utility Helicopters Project Office (UH PO) and Sikorsky. The UH PO is providing access to two UH-60MU Black Hawk helicopters and Sikorsky is applying the technology it has developed with Internal Research and Development funding.
Sikorsky has been developing the technology since 2007, and signed a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army in 2013 to advance the program to a formal effort to demonstrate the full flexibility and value of a full authority flight control system. The effort includes demonstration of expeditionary ground control systems and precision control.
“The ADD’s mission is to focus on developing, demonstrating and applying critical technologies that enhance the capability, affordability, readiness and safety of Department of Defense aviation systems,” said Dr. William Lewis, Director, ADD. “The optionally piloted Black Hawk helicopter functionality stands to bring added value to DoD aviation systems, through the innovations being tested on the Black Hawk helicopter in the MURAL program.”