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Yamaha R-MAX (Rotary-MAX)

Remote-Controlled Unmanned Rotary-Wing Helicopter System

The Yamaha R-MAX has been developed to serve in both civilian and military markets - the Japanese Army being one of the latter users.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 3/22/2018
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Year: 1995
Status: Active, Limited Service
Manufacturer(s): Yamaha Motor Company - Japan
Production: 10
Capabilities: Reconnaissance (RECCE); Unmanned;
Crew: 0
Length: 11.98 ft (3.65 m)
Width: 2.40 ft (0.73 m)
Height: 3.61 ft (1.1 m)
Weight (Empty): 143 lb (65 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 209 lb (95 kg)
Power: 1 x Yamaha 2-cylinder, 2-stroke water-cooled engine driving a two-bladed main rotor and a two-bladed tail rotor.
Ceiling: 6,004 feet (1,830 m; 1.14 miles)
Operators: Japan; United States
Perhaps best known for its motorcycles and marine engines, Yamaha Motor Company (founded in 1955) has been in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) business for some twenty-five years. The "R-MAX" helicopter system is the fruit of such investments, having been developed during the 1990s to serve the agricultural spraying market. Since its inception, the type has seen consistent service though its market settings are now broadened to include natural disaster reconnaissance, general research, and military applications. The series was actively used to survey the Fukushima nuclear plant in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The air vehicle is arranged as a conventional helicopter with a two-bladed main rotor sat atop the compact, streamlined fuselage. A drive shaft is embedded in the tail stem which powers a two-bladed tail rotor unit offset to the starboard side. The vehicle makes use of a four-point twin-landing skid for ground contact allowing it to land virtually anywhere. In-built wheels can be folded down at the skids for maneuvering the aircraft by ground crew while unpowered and on the ground. The fuselage can mount a variety of camera and sensor fits depending on mission type with real-time reporting and data-collecting possible. Over the sides of the fuselage can be installed liquid-holding tanks and a spraying system for wide-area spraying of agricultural areas.

Structural dimensions include an overall length of 11.10 feet, a width of 2.3 feet, and a height of 3.6 feet. Empty weight is 140lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of around 215lb. Power is served from a single Yamaha 2-cylinder, 2-stroke liquid-cooled engine driving a 10.2 foot diameter main rotor assembly overhead. The air vehicle has a mission endurance window of about one hour and is controlled by a ground-based operator through Line-of-Sight (LoS) inputs. The control scheme is the in-house Yamaha Attitude Control System (YACS).

The R-MAX also has expanded into the military sphere for the company teamed with American defense powerhouse Northrop Grumman in 2014 to bring about the R-MAX-based "R-BAT" offering autonomous functionality and support for advanced military systems and sensors. The R-BAT is still being actively marketed by Northrop as of this writing (2018).


None. Mission equipment consisting of cameras and sensors for the reconnaissance role. Agricultural sprayer system for crop-dusting role.

Variants / Models

• R-MAX (Rotary-MAX) - Base Series Designation
• R-BAT (Rotary-BAT) - Militarized variant of 2014 developed through partnership with Northrop Grumman.
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