Near Earth Autonomy and Kaman Air Vehicles, a sector of Kaman Corporation, have been granted a contract by the U.S. Army to showcase an autonomous aerial resupply system. This system is set to carry a minimum payload of 800 pounds while covering a distance exceeding 100 miles, offering a more advanced and safer alternative to the present mix of smaller drones and crewed aircraft that the Army currently relies on for such tasks.
For the U.S. Army, operating in adversarial territories often increases risks for their aircrews. The new heavy-lift vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial system will serve as a crucial supplement, reducing the need for human involvement and thereby potential casualties. Near Earth, known for its expertise in autonomous flight technology, is teaming up with Kaman, a rotorcraft and unmanned solutions specialist. Together, they intend to revolutionize military logistics operations within the defense sector.
Near Earth assumes the role of the principal contractor, focusing on the UAS's autonomy system. This encompasses features like navigation, manual override, and obstacle detection systems, ensuring fail-safe mechanisms and uninterrupted operation, even if some parts of the system experience glitches.
Built upon Kaman's specially designed KARGO UAV, the UAS is tailored to cater to the Army's requirements concerning both lift capacity and endurance. The aircraft's modularity is particularly noteworthy, accommodating various mission types including resupply logistics, ISR, EW, CR, and SAR.
Sanjiv Singh, CEO of Near Earth Autonomy, emphasized the broadened perspective this collaboration brings, moving from an aerial resupply aircraft for the Marine Corps to a versatile autonomous multi-mission aircraft. Romin Dasmalchi, overseeing Kaman's KARGO UAV business, highlighted the complementary skills both entities bring, culminating in a comprehensive aerial system suited for diverse applications.
Last year, the KARGO UAV caught the attention of the United States Marine Corps, being chosen for the medium unmanned logistics systems – air program. With the Army now onboard, there's the potential to expand the UAV's functionalities and adapt it for more substantial payloads. A demonstration of its capabilities, covering facets from drone cargo resupply to reconnaissance, is slated for Project Convergence in 2024.