Kratos to explore UAVs to support fighter jets
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has received a $12.6 million contract with Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), a US Department of Defense organisation, to explore the use of high-speed UAVs to support fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The contract was announced on 17 October.
The contract will see the company integrate sensors into its Unmanned Tactical Aerial Platform (UTAP-22) for test bed opterations. Kratos will demonstrate the UTAP-22 in a large, complex military exercise, and will examine new operator interface concepts to control multiple high performance UAVs.
The project will explore the use of these UAVs in either semi-autonomous or fully autonomous roles to support next-gen fighter aircraft.
Jerry Beaman, president of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, said: 'Manned/unmanned teaming of tactical aircraft with a UAV capable of tactical speeds and manoeuvrability will provide the warfighter with an inexpensive force multiplier and unmanned wingman; an unprecedented capability.'
The Kratos UTAP-22 is designed for tactical and collaborative missions with manned aircraft, and tactical payload delivery and operations. The UTAP-22 has previously demonstrated the ability to conduct collaborative airborne operations with a manned fighter aircraft, an AV-8B Harrier; command and control through the tactical data link; execution of semi-autonomous tasks; execution of autonomous flight in formation with the AV-8B and with multiple UTAP-22s; transfer of UTAP-22 control between non-line-of-site operators in the tactical network; and transfer of control from the tactical network to an independent dedicated control link.
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