An artist's impression of BAE Systems' proposed attritable UAVs alongside the controlling aircraft.
BAE Systems has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop an attritable air vehicle system for the Skyborg program. Under this program the company will compete to develop a digital design for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of autonomous functions.
The Skyborg program is intended to create a low-cost autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle that will partner with manned aircraft to increase air combat power. Teamed with a manned aircraft, the UAVs will leverage autonomy to disrupt and defeat adversaries in contested environments.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center has completed the second phase of awards for the Skyborg Prototyping, Experimentation and Autonomy Development multiple indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract.
This round adds AeroVironment Inc., Simi Valley, California; Autodyne LLC, Boston, Massachusetts; BAE System Controls Inc., Arlington, Virginia; Blue Force Technologies Inc., Morrisville, North Carolina; Fregata System Inc., St. Louis, Missouri; Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, Texas; NextGen Aeronautics Inc., Torrance, California; Sierra Technical Services, Tehachapi, California; and Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas.
A total of 13 vendors will now compete for up to $400 million in subsequent delivery orders in support of the Skyborg Vanguard Program.
"The need to generate combat power faster than our adversaries is critical to address near-peer threats," says Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems. "This award will accelerate the development and deployment of manned-unmanned teaming technologies to give the U.S. Air Force a decisive edge in the battlespace."
The UAVs will be designed with BAE Systems' autonomous systems, which include sensors and payloads that communicate across a shared network with manned aircraft. This modular and common system approach provides the foundation for rapid updates and integration to ensure the fleet is fielding the latest capabilities to defend against emerging threats.
The shared network enables manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), which allows UAVs and manned aircraft to work together and complete missions more effectively. The network extends the reach of the fleet, while keeping the manned aircraft and personnel out of harm's way. It will allow the UAVs to serve as the eyes and ears for pilots, collecting and sending data from the battlespace to a manned fighter.
The program's development work will be conducted at the company's state-of-the-art facility in Endicott, New York.
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