US Air Force Program to Develop Jet UAS for Manned-Unmanned Teaming

Kratos’ Off Board Sensing Station UAS is a low-cost Autonomous Collaborative Platform designed to employ weapons, sensors, and other effects that generate affordable, force multiplier combat power with a forward force posture By DA Staff / 03 Nov 2021
Kratos Unmanned Systems
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Kratos Unmanned Systems Division of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. has been awarded a contract to design and develop an Off Board Sensing Station (OBSS) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in support of Air Force Research Laboratory’s Autonomous Collaborative Platforms (ACP) technology maturation portfolio. 

Work under the $17.7 million, 12-month cost plus fixed-fee contract award will be performed at Kratos engineering and technology facilities in Texas, California, and Oklahoma.

The OBSS program includes an optional subsequent 15-month Manufacture and Demonstration period. With the base and option awards, total contract to Kratos would be $49 million.

“Our industry leading high performance per cost family of tactical and target UAS continues to grow, further enabling our economies of scale across the life cycle of our entire unmanned systems portfolio,” said Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division. 

“Kratos’ range of UAS and quantities (mass to the fight) will help to maintain American dominance in the air by bending the cost curve to enable the U.S. to acquire and employ large numbers of aircraft that challenge our adversary and force them to recalculate their options. Our team is extremely proud to be selected to design and develop the OBSS platform.”

The OBSS vehicle is intended to be an affordable, highly modular conventional takeoff and landing jet-powered UAS. The solution incorporates innovative manufacturing techniques that enhance its ability to not only provide significant performance for sensor extension missions for manned jet aircraft, but also will accommodate significant offensive weapons volume to also act as a weapons bay extension for manned aircraft. 

OBSS is a new addition to the Kratos family of low-cost Autonomous Collaborative Platforms (ACP) designed to employ weapons, sensors, and other effects that generate affordable, force multiplier combat power with a forward force posture. Kratos’ industry leading Digital Engineering (DE) framework for high performance jet UAS will be used to develop, mature, leverage, and integrate system-ready technologies and supplement its DE framework with prudent early ground and flight demonstrations and experiments.

“Kratos is committed to disrupting the government contractor national security market by providing rapid, agile, affordable, and relevant systems to our defense customers,” said Eric DeMarco, President and CEO of Kratos Defense and Security Solutions. “The recent selection of Kratos to develop next-generation OBSS aircraft for our partner, the U.S. Air Force, re-affirms our approach to treat affordability as a technology. 

“Kratos Ghost Works, which played a significant role in the design of our OBSS system, has once again demonstrated that our real, proven, digital engineering process, methodology, assets, and infrastructure are optimized for affordable system development. 

“At Kratos, we develop products, not just PowerPoint presentations, and we will continue to pursue affordable, innovative solutions to support our USAF customer in the current challenging budgetary environment.”

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