An effort to make Black Hawk helicopters function as optionally unmanned aircraft passed a major threshold last week, Defense One reports, citing an Army testing official.


Not all amphibious all-terrain vehicles need a driver anymore. Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Kirstin Merrimarahajara

The Army's existing fleet of approximately 2,500 Black Hawks could be retrofitted to make the aircraft optionally manned. Such a move would supposedly give the Army a greater degree of flexibility in its operations.

"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," Mark Miller, vice president of research and engineering at Sikorsky, told Defense Tech about the project. "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."