The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) has awarded contracts to three companies for the production of missionised prototypes that can fly in experimentation events.

The three companies that were awarded the contracts were The Boeing Co, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems.

The contracts have a 24-month performance period.

Boeing was awarded a contract worth $25.74m, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems received a $14.32m contract, while Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems received a $37.77m contract.

The programme is expected to provide the foundation for the construction of an airborne autonomous system that can adapt, orient, and decide at machine speed.

Fighters and Advanced Aircraft programme executive officer brigadier general Dale White said: “This award is a major step forward for our game-changing Skyborg capability, this award supporting our operational experimentation is truly where concepts become realities.

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“We will experiment to prove out this technology and to do that we will aggressively test and fly to get this capability into the hands of our warfighters.”

Skyborg is one of three Vanguard programmes that seek to develop and deliver capabilities to transform the operations of the US Air Force (USAF).

It was identified as part of the Air Force Science and Technology 2030 initiative.

The programme aims to combine autonomous unmanned air vehicle (UAV) technology with open missions systems and enable the teaming of manned and unmanned systems.

Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) commander brigadier general Heather Pringle added: “The value in this close partnership between AFRL and AFLCMC is becoming clear.

“When we field prove technology faster, it gives our warfighters the edge they need to win the day.”

In September, the second phase of awards was completed for the Skyborg Prototyping, Experimentation and Autonomy Development (SPEAD) multiple indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.