Sikorsky Flight-Testing Black Hawk with Optionally Piloted Vehicle Tech

Sikorsky is testing a new technology kit on a Black Hawk helicopter that will eventually lead to fully autonomous flights.  The initial test involved transforming a once mechanically controlled Black Hawk into one with fly-by-wire controls.  Follow-on testing will take place with the goal of a fully autonomous flight in 2020.

The Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) approach is being developed under the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program.  The goal is to allow safe aircraft operation with two, one, or no crew on board.  In addition to enabling future unmanned flights, the technology also aims to aid in pilot decision-making during manned operations.

About Shaun McDougall

As editor of International Military Markets, North America, Shaun has cultivated a deep understanding of the vast defense markets in the United States and Canada. Shaun's perspective on defense procurement and budget issues has been cited in a variety of defense periodicals, including Defense News and National Defense Magazine. Further, Shaun played an integral role in the development of Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast product, which offers an unprecedented level of insight into the Pentagon's acquisition budget. In addition to providing original analytical content for the U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, Shaun oversees an internal defense budget forecasting process involving Forecast International's team of skilled systems analysts following release of the DoD's annual budget request. Shaun is also in charge of managing Forecast International's Weapons Inventory database.

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