Autonomous aircraft contenders named by U.S. Air ForceNews
January 26, 2024
ARLINGTON, Va. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) announced the selection of five companies that will develop autonomous aircraft for the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Anduril, and General Atomics.
According to information by the service, the CCA program is an initiative by the USAF to create uncrewed, relatively low-observable aircraft that can escort or coordinate with crewed aircraft, aiding on missions such as electronic warfare, suppression of air defenses, communications, or as a flying extra magazine of weapons. Adding these aircraft could provide additional critical “mass” in a peer conflict, expanding the combat force at lower cost than crewed aircraft.
USAF officials requested $5.8 billion for CCAs over the next five years, with $392 million for fiscal 2024; Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in 2023 that 1,000 CCAs would be a "working number" or initial request for CCAs, but added that the ultimate number could double that.