General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has been chosen to produce and demonstrate the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) uncrewed Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) aircraft.

The selection of GA-ASI for the OBSS uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) comes after the successful completion of a year-long base period, which resulted in the critical design review (CDR) of the UAS.

Following the CDR, AFRL exercised the production and flight test option specified under the initial contract awarded in November 2021.

Apart from GA-ASI, the 2021 contract was also awarded to Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to design the initial OBSS UAS for the AFRL.

With the new options exercised, the OBSS development contract is expected to have an estimated potential value of approximately $49m.

GA-ASI president David Alexander said: “Throughout our 30-year history, GA-ASI has pioneered the advancement of UAS that support our warfighters.

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“AFRL is moving forward with GA-ASI because we have the right background and experience to develop the OBSS aircraft at scale and on time, and we look forward to working with them to deliver another game-changing UAS.”

The new OBSS platform is being developed as part of the low-cost attritable aircraft platform sharing (LCAAPS) programme, which involves the development of various aircraft variants that have a common core chassis.

The LCAAPS programme is one of the initiatives under the AFRL’s Autonomous Collaborative Enabling Technologies (ACET) portfolio through which the service aims to develop different technologies in support of future autonomous collaborative platforms (ACP).

In addition, GA-ASI is working to determine and validate the AFRL’s ‘genus/species’ concept through its Gambit Series aircraft.

One of the most recent flight tests conducted by the company also aimed to demonstrate the capability of its ACP mission system.