The Boeing Company is preparing to offer a solution based on the world record-setting A160T Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft in response to the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command's Request for Proposal (RFP) for Cargo Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Services. The RFP calls for government-owned, contractor-operated UAS services for the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.
In March, under contract from the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL), Boeing demonstrated the A160T's ability to deliver at least 2,500 pounds of cargo from one simulated forward-operating base to another base 75 nautical miles away in less than the required six hours. The simulated mission delivered 1,250-pound sling loads over two 150-nautical-mile round trips, with the A160T operating autonomously on a preprogrammed mission.
"Based on Boeing's success in the MCWL demonstration, we are convinced we have the right solution to bring this important capability to the Marines in the field," said Vic Sweberg, Boeing director of Unmanned Airborne Systems. "We are prepared to offer the best response to the Marines to support their ongoing efforts in Afghanistan."
The A160T has a 2,500-pound payload capacity. It features a unique optimum-speed-rotor technology that significantly improves overall performance efficiency by adjusting the rotor’s speed at different altitudes, gross weights and cruise speeds. The autonomous unmanned aircraft, measuring 35 feet long with a 36-foot rotor diameter, has hovered at 20,000 feet and cruised at more than 140 knots. The A160T established a world endurance record in its class in 2008 with an 18.7-hour unrefueled flight.
Boeing started its A160T production line at its plant in Mesa, Ariz., in March.