From Target Drone to F-35 Wingman

Drones have revolutionized how war is fought and as drone technology evolves further, their influence only grows. A new drone in the development for the US Air Force will shake things up even further.

In the summer of last year, the US Air Force awarded Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. a $41 million contract to develop Low-Cost Attritable Strike Unmanned Aerial System Demonstration (LCASD). Basically, they want Kratos to develop a cheap rocket-powered drone that can act as a wingman for expensive state-of-the-art fighters like the new F-35.

But Kratos is not starting from scratch, instead they are redesigning a popular target drone, the Kratos Defense’s BQM-167A. Here is what the the Air Force is expecting for the drone.

  • Approximate a fighter jet’s capability to conduct high-g-force maneuvers.
  • Fly 1,500 nautical miles in a combat radius.
  • Launch and land without runways.
  • Carry a 500-pound weapons payload — sufficient for two GBU-39 small diameter bombs, or up to four Hellfire missiles.

Kratos is planning on building these drones for a little as $2-3 million a piece, which makes them incredibly cost-effective for what they can do.

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