USAF initiates Phase 2 of Skyborg ‘loyal wingman' concept

by Gareth Jennings

The US Air Force (USAF) has commenced the second phase of development of the Skyborg attritable unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) that it plans to fly in 2023, the service disclosed on 30 September.

An illustrative concept for the Skyborg UCAV released by the USAF. The service aims to fly a prototype by the end of 2023. (AFRL)

An illustrative concept for the Skyborg UCAV released by the USAF. The service aims to fly a prototype by the end of 2023. (AFRL)

Nine companies and academic institutions are now in line to receive a share of up to USD400 million, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio noted in its announcement following the award of the latest round of contracts for the Skyborg ‘loyal wingman’.

“This second phase of awards establishes a diverse and competitive vendor pool by adding several non-traditional and traditional contractors we saw as important additions to the effort,” Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, Brigadier General Dale White, said. Vendors contracted under the latest Skyborg Prototyping, Experimentation, and Autonomy Development (SPEAD) multiple indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) award comprise AeroVironment Inc., Autonodyne LLC, BAE Systems Controls Inc., Blue Force Technologies Inc., Fregata System Inc., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, NextGen Aeronautics Inc., Sierra Technical Services Inc., and Wichita State University. Previous awards had been made to Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), Kratos, and Northrop Grumman, bringing to 13 the number of organisations outside of the USAF now involved in the effort.

“It has always been the Skyborg programme’s intent to award as many IDIQ contracts as practicable, and to include additional contractors over time. The second phase of awards demonstrates the program’s continuous efforts to identify applicable technology and expeditiously inject it into the program to meet warfighter needs,” the AFLCMC said.

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The US Air Force (USAF) has commenced the second phase of development of the Skyborg attritable unma...

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