Kratos, General Atomics receive Skyborg contracts

By Courtney Albon / August 16, 2021 at 4:22 PM

The Air Force recently awarded contracts to Kratos and General Atomics to continue development and experimentation on the Skyborg program.

The service announced the two deals today: up to $13.2 million for Kratos and its XQ-58A and as much as $7 million for General Atomics' MQ-20.

"These efforts will advance the integration of the Autonomous Core System along with continued operational experimentation through fiscal year 2022," the Air Force said in a press release. "The vehicles will demonstrate future warfighting capabilities through the teaming of manned and unmanned platforms at large-force test events."

Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Brig. Gen. Dale White told reporters last week the service may miss its FY-23 target for transitioning Skyborg to a program of record. White said while the original timeline is feasible, it's not clear where it fits among the service's other budget priorities.

"I just don't think we're ready to commit to that right now, and I think there's many other variables that go into that algorithm as to when we make that leap," he said.

In the press release today, White said the program will be ready to transition in FY-23 and will work closely with the service as it prepares its budget submission.

White said the contract awards are "strategically important" to Skyborg as the Air Force continues to explore how it might use the aircraft in the future.

The service has flown Skyborg's ACS twice, first on Kratos' UTAP-22 and later on General Atomics' MQ-20. The next exercise is planned for this fall.

Along with General Atomics and Kratos, Boeing is also slated to deliver aircraft to participate in Skyborg demonstrations. White said last week he expects Boeing's first aircraft to be ready "later in '22."