Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie’s weapons bay operation in flight
Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie’s weapons bay operation in flight

Kratos and US Air Force Remain Committed to 2023 Skyborg Vanguard Program of Record

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., a leading National Security Solutions provider announced today that it remains committed to be ready for a 2023 Skyborg Vanguard Program of Record, echoing the commitment expressed by the U.S. Air Force in its August 16, 2021 update on the Skyborg program. Skyborg is an autonomy-focused capability developed to enable the Air Force to operate and sustain low-cost, teamed aircraft that can thwart adversaries with quick, decisive actions in contested environments. The program aims to enable airborne combat mass by building a transferable autonomy foundation for a family of layered, unmanned air vehicles. As designed, this foundation will deliver unmatched combat capability per dollar by lowering the barriers to entry for industry and allowing continuous hardware and software innovation in acquisition, fielding and sustainment of critical mission systems. During this effort, AFRL will prototype a suite of autonomy and unmanned system technologies equipped with capabilities that can support a range of Air Force missions.

Eric DeMarco, Kratos President and CEO, said, “Kratos remains committed to supporting our partner’s, the United States Air Force, objective of transitioning Skyborg to a Program of Record in 2023 with the XQ-58 Valkyrie. Primary stated requirements for Skyborg Program Drones include runway independence, affordability, and that the actual to be fielded aircraft exists today, are not surrogates and will execute flights under the program this year, not at some future date. Kratos is currently satisfying the complete requirement set. We believe that Kratos’ demonstrated and proven ability to rapidly develop, demonstrate, and manufacture large quantities of high-performance jet drones at an affordable cost is consistent with our customer’s stated vision, and our entire organization is focused on successfully executing the mission.”

XQ-58A Valkyrie, F-35 Lightning II, and F-22 Raptor
XQ-58A Valkyrie, F-35 Lightning II, and F-22 Raptor fly in formation (Photo by Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc.)

Steve Fendley, Kratos Unmanned Systems Division President, said, “The Kratos approach to developing and delivering attritable unmanned jet aircraft directly aligns with the USAF objectives from digital engineering development to affordable mass to distributed lethality. The Kratos Valkyrie was ready for its first flight of the full-scale aircraft system (note we rarely experiment with subscale prototypes because for integrated aircraft systems, scalability is not linear and therefore results in additional cost and schedule) in under 30 months from initial concept. Our approach is a tailored version of digital engineering/digital development specifically designed to support rapid and affordable physical system development. The process consists of a cyclical succession of digital design and digital analysis combined with rapid prototyping of high-risk elements, supported with both conventional and company-developed life-cycle digital toolsets. The XQ-58A Valkyrie exemplifies both the approach and result; a true attritable (cost, operational methods, and performance) unmanned jet aircraft system uniquely applicable to the Skyborg Vanguard requirements. The Skyborg program requirements are for, ‘autonomous, low-cost platforms to enable expeditionary operations that can generate massed combat power with minimal logistical footprints. Our demonstrated success in developing affordable unmanned jet aircraft systems includes over 10 different aircraft types for a range of tactical and target applications. For the Valkyrie and its multiple program opportunities, we leaned forward with internal funds and established an initial production run of 12 aircraft systems. These aircraft are coming off the line this year and next. Our unique position as a mid-tier system provider enables us to take these more commercial (versus conventional defense primes) approaches which benefit the DoD and demonstrate the speed that is achievable through leveraging the Silicon Valley approach to technology and system development.”

To fast track this game-changing capability, the U.S. Air Force designated Skyborg as one of three Vanguard programs in 2019. These priority initiatives integrate several technology components across multiple domains to create complex, multidisciplinary solutions. Marked by an enterprise-wide commitment, Vanguards deliver advanced capabilities that transform future operations with cutting-edge technologies. As autonomy technology matures, Skyborg will bring cutting-edge capabilities to the fight at a faster pace and lower cost.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ:KTOS) develops and fields transformative, affordable technology, platforms and systems for United States National Security related customers, allies and commercial enterprises. Kratos is changing the way breakthrough technology for these industries are rapidly brought to market through proven commercial and venture capital backed approaches, including proactive research and streamlined development processes. At Kratos, affordability is a technology, and we specialize in unmanned systems, satellite communications, cyber security/warfare, microwave electronics, missile defense, hypersonic systems, training, combat systems and next generation turbo jet and turbo fan engine development.

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