General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has won a contract to research and develop the Off-Boarding Sensing Station (OBSS) uncrewed aerial system (UAS).

Awarded by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the $17.8m agreement involves design, development, and flight demonstration.

To achieve quick time-to-market and affordable acquisition cost, AFRL is developing an open architecture concept, Autonomous Collaborative Platform (ACP).

GA-ASI Special Programs senior vice-president Chris Seat said: “We’re excited to continue working on this project with AFRL.

“Our experience in developing and delivering the most cost-effective and forward-looking UAS solutions puts GA-ASI in a great position to deliver the right ACP to meet our customer’s requirements.”

The AFRL also selected Kratos to design and develop the OBSS UAS in support of AFRL’s ACP technology maturation portfolio.

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This award to GA-ASI and Kratos comes as the result of a competitive bid in which seven offers from different bidders were received by the AFRL.

The 12-month contracts come with an additional $31.9m and $31.3m options for GA-ASI and Kratos respectively, extending the optional technical effort for a further 15 months.

Including the base and option awards, the total contract value awarded to Kratos and GA-ASI will increase to approximately $49m.

Air Force Research Lab, Wright Patterson Air Force Base is serving as the contracting activity for the awards.

Detailed information about the OBSS effort has not yet been made public.

According to Kratos, the OBSS is expected to be ‘an affordable and highly modular conventional take-off and landing jet-powered UAS’.