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Kratos reveals design for Thanatos tactical UAV

6th November 2023 - 13:17 GMT | by Damian Kemp in London


An impression of Kratos's Thanatos tactical UAV was released on 3 November. (Image: Kratos)

Kratos has experience with tactical UAVs but the tail-less design of Thanatos has marked a substantial change from the company’s XQ-58A Valkyrie UAV.

US defence technology company Kratos has revealed details of a new tactical UAV, dubbed Thanatos, as part of its third quarter 2023 financial results.

The image included in the results showed a blended tail-less platform as part of an effort to create a stealthy aircraft with recessed inlet and exhaust to further reduce the aircraft’s visibility.

The name of the UAV has been around since 2019 and while little more had been known about the system, the company’s president and CEO Eric DeMarco has described it as a key project for the company.

‘Based on recent large new programme opportunities we are pursuing, we are now planning on certain additional investments in 2024, including in the tactical drone [area] in order to position the company for potentially even greater growth in 2025 and beyond.’ DeMarco said.

‘Among the new opportunities we are pursuing, we are in discussions with a customer and hope to be under contract next year related to certain other Kratos tactical drone systems, including Thanatos, and we are now in source selection on a significant new satellite opportunity.’

While DeMarco did not specifically outline future requirements where Thanatos might feature, the image presented does carry a US Air Force logo and a key opportunity for the platform might be that force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) programme.

Under CCA the US Air Force has envisaged several UAVs working alongside a single-crewed aircraft, such as a future sixth-generation fighter or the Lockheed Martin F-35 multirole fighter aircraft. Each uncrewed platform would potentially host a different mission set, granting the squadron operational flexibility.

It does not mark the company’s first venture into UAVs with low-observable attributes. The company’s XQ-58A Valkyrie is a high-altitude, long-endurance, runway-independent, high-subsonic 'Loyal Wingman' UAS.

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Damian Kemp


Damian Kemp

Damian Kemp has worked in the defence media for 25 years covering military aircraft, defence …

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