Kaman Aerospace is to demonstrate a variant of its Magic Lantern mine detection system using a K-MAX helicopter to play the role of an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) as part of a mine countermeasures advanced concept technology demonstration.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is sponsoring the $2 million effort which will take place over the next few months off the Newfoundland coast as part of a Canadian-led NATO joint maritime exercise.
The demonstration is aimed at proving whether UAVs can be used for mine countermeasures operations, even though no vehicle exists to undertake the task at present.
The exercise will demonstrate the Magic Lantern Adaption (ML(A)) shallow water mine detection system operating from a K-MAX acting as a surrogate UAV.
Kaman says that "-the ONR has recognised that the use of an airborne mine countermeasures system in very shallow waters and a hostile environment could benefit from the use of an unmanned vehicle".
ML(A) was successfully demonstrated last year on a Kaman SH-2F helicopter. Although it provided real-time data through a downlink, it was controlled by an aircraft crewmember. In the forthcoming test, there will be no airborne operator and all sensor system control will be performed remotely via a datalink from a ground control station.
The Magic Lantern airborne laser mine-detection system has been deployed with a US Navy Reserve SH-2F squadron, and a congressionally mandated fly-off between Magic Lantern and the Lockheed Martin ATD-111 system was conducted late last year. The report on the fly-off is scheduled to be published shortly.