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US Army Testing Pilotless Black Hawk Helicopter

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File photo of a Black Hawk helicopter. (credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a Black Hawk helicopter. (credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

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CONNECTICUT (CBS Connecticut) – The U.S. Army is testing an unmanned Black Hawk helicopter that one day can deliver cargo and supplies to troops autonomously, according to LiveScience.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. built the helicopter, which completed its first test in March.

“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, said in a statement to LiveScience. “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.”

The helicopter is part of the company’s Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter, or MURAL, program which they have been working on since 2007. They were awarded funding from the Army last year in order to expand its research and development.

“These technologies are designed to enhance the capability, affordability, readiness, and safety of Department of Defense aviation systems, William Lewis, director of the U.S. Army Aviation Development Directorate, said in a statement. “The optionally piloted Black Hawk helicopter functionality stands to bring added value to aviation systems, through the innovations being tested on the Black hawk helicopter in the MURAL program.”

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