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USAF picks Kratos for new MUM-T programme

27th October 2021 - 18:12 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Kratos is conducting R&D on a new attritable UAV (pictured is its XQ-58A Valkyrie). (Photo: Kratos)

Off-Board Sensing Solution programme for USAF blends sensor extension for crewed aircraft with an attritable offensive weapons capability.

Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems has received a contract worth up to $49 million from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for R&D in the Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) UAV programme.

Kratos beat six other bidders to the contract.

An initial $17.68 million award could be followed by an option worth $31.39 million, the DoD announced on 25 October.

It added: ‘This contract provides for a design, development, and flight demonstration in an open architecture aircraft concept to achieve the goals of rapid time-to-market and low acquisition cost.’

Kratos is due to complete work on the baseline contract by 31 October 2022 but if the option is exercised, a subsequent technical effort will last until 31 January 2024.

The USAF envisages OBSS as an attritable, low-cost and modular manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) platform with capabilities similar to those being developed in the Skyborg programme (in which Kratos is one of the four companies involved).

For its part, Kratos noted in a 26 October press release that ‘OBSS is a new addition to the Kratos family of low-cost Autonomous Collaborative Platforms designed to employ weapons, sensors, and other effects that generate affordable, force multiplier combat power with a forward force posture’.

The company added: ‘The Kratos OBSS solution incorporates innovative manufacturing techniques that enhance its ability not only to 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.’

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