BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (AP) -- Lockheed Martin Corp. and Kaman Aerospace Corp. are launching their own unmanned military helicopter.
Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Md., and Kaman, in Bloomfield, said Monday they have demonstrated to the Marine Corps the capability of an unmanned helicopter to resupply troops in Afghanistan.
The companies said that in a series of flights last week at the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, the unmanned helicopter demonstrated preprogrammed and remote-control flight.
The announcement comes a week after Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. launched a business venture that will promote new helicopter technology, including unmanned Black Hawks.
Demand has jumped for unmanned helicopters as the U.S. military fights two wars while trying to keep down casualties.
The helicopter hovered at 12,000 feet and delivered 3,000 pounds of cargo in a required six-hour timeframe.
Dan Spoor, a vice president at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, N.Y., said the Marines and U.S. Navy will determine what it wants and will contract with one or more companies.
The optionally piloted aircraft will allow commanders to choose whether to place a pilot in the helicopter.
Teal Group Corp., a research firm in Fairfax, Va., said the rate of growth may decline but unmanned aerial vehicles continue to be the "most dynamic growth sector" of the global aerospace industry.
Teal Group's 2010 market study estimates that annual spending on unmanned aerial vehicles will more than double over the next decade from $4.9 billion now to $11.5 billion.