Kratos Defense & Security Solutions’ subsidiary Kratos Unmanned Systems Division has secured a $400m contract supporting the US Air Force’s (USAF) artificial intelligence (AI) Skyborg Vanguard programme.

Under the five-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract awarded by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), Kratos will be responsible for development, integration and prototype air vehicle delivery.

The Skyborg Vanguard programme aims to integrate autonomous unmanned air vehicle (UAV) technology with open mission systems, enhancing combat capabilities for complex operations.

Work under the programme will be performed for the next two months at Kratos’ US manufacturing and production facilities in Oklahoma and California.

Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Northrop Grumman also secured the contract from the AFLCMC to support the Skyborg programme.

Kratos Unmanned Systems Division president Steve Fendley said: “Skyborg is a critical USAF Vanguard programme that will ensure the US maintains our technological dominance in a period of significant nation-state competition and our readiness for the future of aircraft-based warfare.

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“Kratos has been and remains committed to advancing affordable unmanned technologies, and we are proud to be a Skyborg prime contractor, helping enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to significantly increase mass and effect at dramatically reduced cost compared to traditional aircraft programmes.”

Late last year, Skyborg was identified as one of three Vanguard programmes as part of the Air Force Science and Technology 2030 initiative.

The Vanguards plan to launch a partnership between AFLCMC and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to identify and provide personnel with advanced technology.

Fighters and Advanced Aircraft PEO Brigade General Dale White said: “Because autonomous systems can support missions that are too strenuous or dangerous for manned crews, Skyborg can increase capability significantly and be a force multiplier for the airforce.”