Owego celebrates return of K-MAX

By Caroline Goggin

July 24, 2014 Updated Jul 25, 2014 at 10:17 AM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) After being deployed in Afghanistan for nearly three years, Lockheed Martin staff and military men came together to celebrate the return of the K-MAX helicopter and its success.

Those in attendance at Thursday's ceremony said the unmanned remote control helicopter has changed the future of aviation.

The helicopter's effort began in 2011, with the mission to provide cargo to the U.S. Marine Corps without putting convoys on the ground.

"It was supposed to be there for six months, and we stayed for 33. When you think about that, it's pretty remarkable to do that. And why did we do that? To save lives," said Daniel Schultz, the vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training Ship and Aviation Systems line of business.

Military members are hopeful that the success of the K-MAX will continue in the future too.

"The first unmanned helicopter delivering cargo in a war theater. So, not only was it a first for that, it was the first for the department of defense going through a competition to find a right and affordable solution," said Captain Patrick Smith, program manager for the Navy and Marine Corps Multi-Mission Tactical Program.

The helicopter delivered 4.5 million pounds of cargo, moving 30,000 pounds of supplies in one day, and removed more than 900 vehicles from dangerous roads.