A new jet-powered unmanned air system developed by Kratos Unmanned Systems Division (USD) will enter production under a $23 million contract awarded by an unidentified customer, the California-based company announced on 8 January.

Most of the work under the contract will be completed within a year, but Kratos expects “multiple years of additional production” of the new UAS, the company says.

Kratos confirmed the existence of a high-performance, jet-powered UAS development programme last year, but continued in the new announcement to offer few details, including the identity of the customer.

“Due to customer-related, competitive and other considerations, no additional information will be provided related to this programme or contract award,” Kratos says.

In previous statements about the project, Kratos chief executive Eric DeMarco has described the new UAV as capable of high-subsonic speeds and high-g manoeuvres.

The project comes after Kratos has fielded a series of jet-powered projects, including the UTAP-22 loyal wingman and the low-cost XQ-222.

Kratos entered the UAS market six years ago by acquiring Composite Engineering Inc, maker of the BQM-167 and BQM-177 series of high-speed target drones.

“We are now completing investments on a number of these new UAS platforms and entering production, which we expect will be key contributors to future increases in revenue, profit, cash flow and overall Kratos shareholder value,” DeMarco says. “We are confident that Kratos' ability to rapidly develop, demonstrate and field technology rich, affordable systems is a demonstrated key differentiator for our Company.”

Source: Cirium Dashboard