The unmanned systems business of US technology and services group Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has hinted that it is close to securing a significant export contract for the production of an advanced jet-powered unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
In a release announcing recent flight testing of a “high performance unmanned aerial drone system aircraft”, the company's president and CEO, Eric DeMarco, stated that Kratos was “currently working towards a large production contract with a new international customer, which we hope to receive in the next several months”. No further details were released.
While Kratos did not disclose the type of air vehicle, it is most likely to be the company’s UTAP-22 Mako high-performance tactical UAS. Derived from the company’s BQM-167A sub-scale target, the jet-powered Mako has been designed to serve as an affordable force multiplier to augment and support manned strike aircraft.
The UTAP-22 Mako first flew in late 2015, and was the subject of three successful flight tests on a US Navy range. These included a demonstration of ‘loyal/trusted wingman’ flight operations with multiple systems.
In 2016 the US Defense Innovation Unit – Experimental funded Kratos for a UTAP-22 Mako multi-UAS demonstration mission as part of a larger military exercise conducted in 2017. According to the company, capabilities demonstrated included “manned/unmanned collaborative operations and the latest mission payload set capability to introduce the operational utility of the Mako into a larger-scale exercise”.
Subsequently, Kratos has completed further Mako UAS flight testing with integrated mission systems “typically employed on manned aircraft”.
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