Kratos nets USAF aerial target drone contract

Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems has been awarded a US$338m contract by the US Air Force for the production of aerial target Lots 17-21, out-of-warranty repairs and contractor logistics support.

In a contract notice on August 6 the US Department of Defense stated that work will be performed in Sacramento, California, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2027. The contract was the result of a sole-source acquisition, with fiscal 2021 procurement funds to the amount of US$30.5m obligated at the time of the award.

Kratos has developed a number of aerial targets for use by domestic and international operators, such as the BQM-167A which is used by the USAF. USAF/Sara Vidoni

The company manufacturers a range of aerial targets that are used for airborne weapons-release training, including the BQM-167A US Air Force Subscale Aerial Target (AFSAT), which is the only subscale aerial target platform operated by the US Air Force (USAF). The system has an operational ceiling of 50,000ft and can travel at speeds of up to 0.91 Mach.

When operated, the BQM-167A supports a number of missions requirements through its internal and external payloads, such as Identification Friend or Foe, passive and active radar augmentation, electronic countermeasures, infrared augmentation, and internally stored chaff and flares.

Kratos is also developing the XQ-58A Valkyrie system for the USAF’s Skyborg programme, which is intended to deliver a combat-capable unmanned system that operates alongside crewed fighters in support of missions such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike.

In December 2020, the company was awarded a US$37m for the Skyborg Delivery Order 2 contract to integrate, test and deliver XQ-58A aircraft.

The contract includes three phases of design, integration, and flight testing of the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie system, integrating multiple customer-defined mission payloads and customer-defined autonomy in coordination/cooperation with the Skyborg System Design Agent company, Leidos.

Kratos currently works in partnership with Leidos’ Dynetics on the Gremlins programme, which will see small, unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) launched from and recovered by a modified C-130 tactical transport.