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Kratos clean sheet design wins USAF Off Board Sensing Station contract

Kratos offered a new design for its bid that won a contract for the US Air Force's (USAF's) Off Board Sensing Station (OBSS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programme. On 25 October the company received a USD17.7 million cost plus fixed-fee award with a USD31.4 million option.

Steve Fendley, Kratos unmanned systems division president, told Janes on 26 October that an OBSS is a sensor on an independent UAV that can transmit data to an operator. Since the sensor is off board, it does not have to be installed or integrated on newer manned platforms, which he says increases capability and reduces cost.

The OBSS vehicle is intended to be an affordable, highly-modular, conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jet-powered UAV, according to a Kratos statement. The company's offering will not only provide performance for sensor extension missions for manned jet aircraft, but will also accommodate significant offensive weapons volume to act as a weapons bay extension for manned aircraft.

Fendlay said the range between the OBSS and the manned aircraft in a manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) scenario will depend on the sensor system. There could be scenarios where the operator wants to be in close proximity because of the way the sensor works with the manned aircraft. In other cases, he said, the OBSS could be up to 161 kilometers away. Findlay expects the OBSS to take off from a different runway in a MUM-T scenario.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) was also awarded a USD17.8 million contract on 26 October for the OBSS, with a USD32 million option. Seven offers were made for the OBSS, according to a Pentagon statement. GA-ASI and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the contracting agency, did not return requests for comment prior to publication.

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