Kratos Defense & Security has expressed commitment to move Skyborg to a programme of record (POR) and be ready in 2023.

The company reflected the commitment expressed by the US Air Force (USAF) in the service’s latest update.

Skyborg is an autonomy-focused capability developed to allow the USAF to operate and sustain low-cost, teamed aircraft.

It is one of the three initiatives under the USAF’s Vanguard programme for rapid prototyping and development of new technologies. The other two initiatives are Golden Horde and Navigation Technology Satellite 3 (NTS-3).

Recently, USAF’s Fighters and Advanced Aircraft programme executive office awarded contract options for Kratos (XQ-58A) and General Atomics (MQ-20) to advance the development of the Skyborg Vanguard.

The Kratos contract is valued at up to $13.2m and the General Atomics contract is worth up to $7m.

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By GlobalData

Kratos president and CEO Eric DeMarco said: “Kratos remains committed to supporting our partner’s, the United States Air Force, objective of transitioning Skyborg to a program of record in 2023 with the XQ-58 Valkyrie.

“Primary stated requirements for Skyborg Program Drones include runway independence, affordability, and that the actual to be fielded aircraft exists today, are not surrogates and will execute flights under the programme this year, not at some future date.

“Kratos is currently satisfying the complete requirement set. We believe that Kratos’ demonstrated and proven ability to rapidly develop, demonstrate, and manufacture large quantities of high-performance jet drones at an affordable cost is consistent with our customer’s stated vision, and our entire organisation is focused on successfully executing the mission.”

The XQ-58A Valkyrie is a low-cost, high-performance uncrewed air vehicle developed by Kratos and Air Force Research Laboratory as part of the latter’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology portfolio.

Last December, Kratos’ XQ-58A Valkyrie UAS completed a flight test in formation with USAF fighter jets.

Skyborg is focused on showcasing an open, modular ACS that can autonomously aviate, navigate, and communicate and integrate other advanced capabilities.

In May, Skyborg autonomy core system (ACS) flew on board a Kratos UTAP-22 tactical uncrewed vehicle for two hours and ten minutes, marking the ‘Milestone 1’ of the Autonomous Attritable Aircraft Experimentation (AAAx) campaign.