Army flies first unmanned Black Hawk helicopter along Kentucky-Tennessee border

Published 4:48 am Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A helicopter flew unmanned around Fort Campbell in what is the Army’s first automated flight of an empty Black Hawk, officials said.

The 14,000-pound helicopter successfully navigated around the post on the Kentucky-Tennessee border as if it was downtown Manhattan, engineers told reporters Tuesday.

The UH-60 aircraft was retrofitted with technology developed by the Defense Department’s research arm, WPLN-FM in Nashville, Tennessee, reported. The flight was the first time the system known as ALIAS flew completely by itself. The system is being tested with 14 different military aircraft.

Igor Cherepinsky, Sikorsky Innovations director, said the Army will determine how to use the technology.
The program began as a “digital co-pilot,” Cherepinsky said. It has become an autonomous pilot but could still be used with a pilot on board.

“One of the reasons we’re here in Fort Campbell, quite frankly, it’s home to some of the most forward-thinking folks who fly rotary wing aircraft,” he said. “You could certainly see their minds working how to use this.”

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