Fort Campbell flies Black Hawk helicopters – without pilots – for the first time

The Army’s first automated flight of an empty Black Hawk helicopter took place at Fort Campbell over the weekend and Monday. The UH-60 aircraft has been upgraded with new technology developed by the Department of Defense’s research arm, DARPA.

During a half-hour flight, the 14,000-pound helicopter – unmanned and unarmed – managed to navigate around Fort Campbell as if it were in downtown Manhattan, according to reports. engineers who briefed reporters on Tuesday. It was the first time the system known as ALIAS, which is being tested with 14 different military aircraft, has flown entirely on its own.

The 6-year-old ALIAS program began as a “digital co-pilot,” says Sikorsky Innovations director Igor Cherepinsky. Now it’s graduated to become an autonomous pilot but could still be used in tandem with an on-board pilot. He says the military will figure out how to use the technology, which could eventually be called upon to perform dangerous medical evacuations in combat zones.

“One of the reasons we’re here at Fort Campbell, quite frankly, is that this is where some of the most forward thinking people who fly rotary wing aircraft live,” he said. declared. “You could definitely see their minds working how to use this.”

The 101st Airborne and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are based at Fort Campbell.

In the short term, Cherepinsky says it’s more likely the fully automated Black Hawks could be used to dump water on wildfires or perform “boring” delivery missions.

“We just want to show the art of the possible and the ideas will start coming in,” he says. “And they already have.”

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