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Collaborative Combat Aircraft programme set to downselect from five contractors

GA-ASI's Gambit UAV concept. Though the companies involved in the CCA programme have been tight-lipped about their submissions, GA-ASI's may be based off the Gambit concept revealed in 2022. (GA-ASI)

The US Air Force (USAF) is set to downselect contractors on the Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) programme from five current potential providers to two to three “within the next few months”, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall told reporters on 13 February on the sidelines of the Air Force Association conference. A further winnowing is likely before the CCA enter the production phase.

“We're going to have at least two [contractors]. We'd like to have three, [which] is going to be difficult, because of the level of funding we have in the budget. With some cost-sharing from industry, I think we could do three, and that would be our preference.”

“The next phase is going to take us into development for production,” Kendall continued. “Then we'll be moving forward in a couple of years to downselect for production. How many [contractors] we'll be able to carry into production is still uncertain. We [will] definitely [have] one but there's a possibility that we could do more than one.”

Five companies are currently on contract to advance their CCA designs: Anduril, Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. The USAF has largely kept the CCA contracting process under wraps, and how advanced the companies' designs are is publicly unknown.

A second round of the CCA programme is to be contracted in fiscal year (FY) 2025, Kendall said, and may include contributions from “strategic” international partners.

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