UAS for combat gets $400 million nod for BAE Systems from U.S. Air Force Skyborg programNews
October 23, 2020
FARNBOROUGH, U.K. BAE Systems has won an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) -- worth as much as $400 million -- to compete to develop a digital design for a low-cost combat unmanned aerial system (UAS) that can team with piloted warplanes under the USAF's Skyborg program.
The Skyborg program is aimed at creating a low-cost and what the USAF calls "attritable" or expendable autonomous UAS that will partner with manned aircraft to increase air combat power; the UAS will leverage autonomy to disrupt and defeat adversaries in contested environments. The UASs, according to company documents, will be designed with BAE Systems’ autonomous systems, which include sensors and payloads that communicate across a shared network with manned aircraft, a modular approach that enables rapid updates and integration.
The shared network enables manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T), which allows UASs and manned aircraft to work together and complete missions more effectively; BAE officials explain that the UASs will act as the eyes and ears for pilots, collecting and sending data from the battlespace to a manned fighter.
“The need to generate combat power faster than our adversaries is critical to address near-peer threats,” said Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems. “This award will accelerate the development and deployment of manned-unmanned teaming technologies to give the U.S. Air Force a decisive edge in the battlespace.”