AeroVironment and Kratos partner to demo tactical drone capabilities

Hemanth Kumar and Talal Husseini 9 May 2019 (Last Updated May 9th, 2019 11:16)

AeroVironment has reached a strategic partnership with Kratos Defense & Security Systems to demonstrate integrated high-performance tactical unmanned aircraft system (UAS) and tactical missile system capabilities.

AeroVironment and Kratos partner to demo tactical drone capabilities
Switchblade is a miniature tactical missile system developed by AeroVironment. Credit: AeroVironment, Inc.

AeroVironment has reached a strategic partnership with Kratos Defense & Security Systems to demonstrate integrated high-performance tactical drone and tactical missile system capabilities.

Under the strategic relationship, AeroVironment and Kratos will develop and demonstrate multi-domain unmanned aerial system (UAS) solutions for near-peer, denied combat environments.

The partnership seeks to showcase low-cost flexible intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and precision strike capabilities.

The firms will integrate AeroVironment tube-launched small unmanned aircraft and tactical missile systems with Kratos high-speed, low-cost attritable drones.

AeroVironment noted that the integration of tactical drone capabilities will help to improve situational awareness and system effectiveness.

AeroVironment UAS business vice-president and deputy general manager Trace Stevenson said: “Working with Kratos, an innovative host aircraft partner, together we are developing and will demonstrate the integration of tube-launched UAS and tactical missile systems into long-range, high-speed and low-cost unmanned systems for their transport and delivery into near-peer, denied environments.

"With sufficient onboard autonomy, sensors, payloads and an integrated system design, we aim to demonstrate the deployment of large quantities of smart systems that overwhelm and disable enemy systems."

“With sufficient onboard autonomy, sensors, payloads and an integrated system design, we aim to demonstrate the deployment of large quantities of smart systems that overwhelm and disable enemy systems, while bending the cost curve to make it financially prohibitive for unfriendly nations to challenge our armed forces.”

The first project under the collaboration will focus on demonstrating the ability to launch, communicate with, and control a small, tube-launched loitering aircraft from a larger runway-independent unmanned aircraft.

Besides, the project will assess the performance of the overall system-of-system’s ability to coordinate the effects of the smaller AeroVironment systems, and transmit useful information back to the Kratos mothership.

The system will also be evaluated in terms of its ability to either pass information back to a ground control station or modify mission taskings based on the information.

Kratos Unmanned Systems Division president Steve Fendley stated that deploying AeroVironment’s tube-launched UAS and tactical missiles from the company’s UAS will enable it to increase the effectiveness and stand-off range of existing technologies.

Last summer, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded a contract to Kratos to work on its Gremlins drone swarming programme.

Furthermore, in February 2019, Kratos secured a number of initial funding contract to work on the Aethon UAS programme.