BAE Systems has secured a $400m contract to support the US Air Force’s (USAF) Skyborg Vanguard programme.

Under the indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract, BAE Systems will compete for the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) digital design.

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

BAE Systems Controls and Avionics Solutions vice-president and general manager Ehtisham Siddiqui said: “The need to generate combat power faster than our adversaries is critical to address near-peer threats.

“This award will accelerate the development and deployment of manned-unmanned teaming technologies to give the US Air Force a decisive edge in the battlespace.”

BAE Systems will include its autonomous systems in the design of the UAVs. Some of the systems include sensors and payloads to support communication with manned aircraft via a shared network.

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The company noted that the shared network allows manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), which will result in completing missions in an effective manner.

This will ensure that pilots and personnel are away from danger as the UAVs will provide situational awareness capability.

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

In July, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions’ subsidiary Kratos Unmanned Systems Division secured a $400m contract supporting the Skyborg Vanguard programme.