The USAF has awarded more small development contracts to Kratos and General Atomics as the service moves towards making its Skyborg Vanguard loyal wingman project a program of record.
The latest contracts from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) – US$13.2m (A$18.2m) for Kratos and US$7m (A$9.65m) for General Atomics – will allow the companies to integrate the Leidos-built Autonomous Core System, which effectively acts as the Skyborg’s brain, and continue flight test work.
“These contract actions, while tactical in nature, are strategically important to this [program] as we continue to discover and learn how we will employ this advance technology in the fight,” the USAF’s program executive for fighters and advanced aircraft, Brig Gen Dale White said in a release. “The team has always been committed to transitioning Skyborg to a program of record, and we’ll be ready in 2023 as the Air Force prepares its FY23 president’s budget submission early next year.”
Kratos has built the XQ-58A air vehicle for the Skyborg program, while General Atomics has adapted its MQ-20 Avenger (Predator-C) air vehicle.
Boeing has also been selected to build a Skyborg prototype – believed to be based on its Air Teaming System (ATS) being developed for the RAAF’s Loyal Wingman program – although it is yet to publicly reveal or fly its air vehicle.