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Sikorsky to explore unmanned role for Black Hawk Helicopter

Discussion in 'Military Forum' started by Lankan Ranger, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Lankan Ranger

    Lankan Ranger ELITE MEMBER

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    Sikorsky to explore unmanned role for Black Hawk Helicopter

    Sikorsky hopes to demonstrate an optionally piloted resupply mission using a fly-by-wire-equipped UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopter by the end of this year.

    Jeff Pino, president of the Connecticut-based company, said the Sikorsky-built automatic flight-control augmentation system, which is packaged in an electronics box roughly 0.3 x 0.6m (1 x 2ft) in dimension, has already been validated. The flight demonstration is expected to use an aircraft loaned by the US Army.

    "By the end of the year, we hope to fly an autonomous resupply mission," said Pino. "The helicopter will land, and two pilots will get in and fly any other mission the Black Hawk can do."

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    The US Army is considering a FBW upgrade for its UH-60M fleet. This would provide the backbone needed to host the advanced control system, which among other features would allow for hands-off landings.

    Sikorsky has proposed an optionally manned architecture where operators can select either zero, one and two pilots.

    Pino said fly-by-wire technology is likely to be a standard feature of every helicopter that Sikorsky develops going forward. Along with the X2 demonstrator, the new CH-53K has FBW controls, as does the CH-148 Cyclone maritime version of the S-92 on order for Canada. "I can't imagine another new start where we don't put in FBW," he said.

    Describing a simulator session testing the CH-53K's FBW-enabled flight-control laws earlier this month, he said: "It will fly better than I will, always. It takes stress and strain and complexity out of the cockpit."

    Pino said pilots can enable the automatic mode by "upshifting" a lever similar to a gear shifter in a car, an action he says will eventually be voice actuated.

    Once in automatic mode, picking up a sling load has been made simple, with voice position commands from the ground easily being input into the flight-control system. Once coupled to the load, Pino said the system can automatically take the slack out of the sling.

    Sikorsky to explore unmanned role for Black Hawk