The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) on 23 July awarded indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contracts to four companies for its Skyborg autonomous attritable aircraft programme.
Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), Kratos, and Northrop Grumman were selected to move forward with the Skyborg effort. These initial awards will establish a vendor pool that will compete for up to USD400 million in subsequent delivery orders. These Skyborg prototyping, experimentation, and autonomy development contracts will be used to deliver missionised prototypes in support of operational experimentation.
An illustrative concept for the Skyborg UAV. The service envisions using the vessel to prove out hardened artificial intelligence that could assist pilots in combat. (US Air Force)
The contracts will also be used to develop the first Skyborg air platform. This will feature modular hardware and software payloads incorporating the Skyborg autonomy core system and enabling manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T). These awards were made as the result of a competitive acquisition and 18 offers were received. Work is expected to be completed by July 2026.
No funds were obligated with the awards and funding will be provided on each individual order. GA-ASI, Kratos, Northrop Grumman, and the USAF did not return requests for comment prior to publication.
Boeing spokesperson Deborah VanNierop said on 23 July that the company submitted a variant of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System (BATS) that is customised to meet the requirements of the Skyborg programme. The BATS is designed for operational requirements that Boeing expects customers around the world to need, she said.
Boeing is engaged with the US industrial base on opportunities to missionise the aircraft for US needs. The BATS was developed as part of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Programme.