The Air Force has awarded Kratos a $17 million contract for research and development of an unmanned Off-Boarding Sensing Station -- a platform the company’s president and CEO has said "could ultimately be as significant and transformational to Kratos as we expect Valkyrie to be."
The award, which the Defense Department announced Monday and includes design, development and flight demonstration, with work to be completed by Oct. 31, 2022, was the result of a competitive solicitation that saw seven offers, according to the notice.
Kratos President and CEO Eric DeMarco told analysts during an earnings call in August the OBSS solicitation was “very, very competitive,” as he described the potential “transformational” nature of the platform for the company, likening it to the stealthy, affordable XQ-58 Valkyrie drone.
But at the time, he declined to share details about the effort, labeling it only as “an attritable, low-cost system” and saying the “program has legs.”
Kratos’ news release today described the OBSS as “an affordable, highly modular conventional takeoff and landing jet-powered” unmanned aerial system. Kratos’ vehicle, it added, combines “innovating manufacturing techniques” that boost officials’ ability to “provide significant performance for sensor extension missions,” as well as effectively extend the weapons bay for manned aircraft.
The description builds on past details the Air Force Research Laboratory included in a call for OBSS proposals in February, which described an aircraft variant that's "designed for limited life in terms of years, not decades, with no depot maintenance and limited field maintenance considerations," and would feature a design and manufacturing that “will incorporate scalable and responsive manufacturing technologies.”
The contract includes an additional $31 million option, with work under it to be completed by Jan. 31, 2024, the DOD notice shows. Including that option, the award’s total value is $49 million.