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Anduril and General Atomics to Develop New Collaborative Combat Aircraft for Air Force

The Air Force has selected Anduril and General Atomics to continue developing their autonomous collaborative fighter jet concepts over models proposed by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, the service announced April 24. selected will still be able to compete to produce the resulting aircraft.

“The Department of the Air Force has made the decision to continue funding Anduril and General Atomics for detailed design, manufacturing, and testing of production representative test articles under the Collaborative Combat Aircraft program “, the service said in a press release.

“Companies not selected to build these production-representative CCA vehicles… will continue to be part of the industry’s broader pool of supplier partners, consisting of more than 20 companies, to compete for future efforts, including future contracts production,” the service said.

Even before the CCA program officially launched, Air Force officials had discussed the possibility of separating design and production in order to attract companies that could design advanced aircraft but perhaps not manufacture them.

An Air Force spokesperson said unselected participants can compete for production, but must do so “at their own expense.”

Anduril is a recent entry into the unmanned aircraft space, founded in 2017. The Silicon Valley startup purchased Blue Force Technologies and its “Fury” stealth aggressor drone program in fall 2023. Conversely, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is an industry veteran, having built the MQ-1 Predator and then the MQ-9 Reaper, remotely piloted hunter-killer drones for the Air Force since the 1990s. It promoted its “Gambit” concept for CCA, which includes five platforms optimized for various missions and built around a common core consisting of an engine, keel and landing gear.

The selections are for “Increment 1” of the CCA program, and a winner will be chosen in 2026. The Air Force is also planning an “Increment 2,” which will begin next year, but details of those platforms are not known. have not been publicly defined. .

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service plans to build at least 1,000 and up to 2,000 CCAs by the mid-2030s, at a cost of about $30 million per year. copy. The concept is that CCAs give the Air Force “affordable mass” to meet a growing, high-capability threat posed by China, given that the Air Force cannot build enough of planes or train enough pilots to overwhelm an opponent of the same level with manned platforms. alone.

Although future iterations of the CCA can perform missions such as electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as air combat, their initial role will be to carry additional munitions for the F-35, F-35, 22 and the next generation Air Dominance fighter. which will succeed the F-22. To be stealthy, these planes must carry weapons internally, which limits their combat load.

Lt. Gen. Richard G. Moore, Jr., deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, said at an AFA Warfighters in Action event earlier this month that “the role on which we The first thing we’ll focus on is the ability to augment the shooters and add additional rails to the formations we send forward. We must “increase the number of weapons in a formation”. Those other roles are “not our focus” for Increment 1, he said.

While initial plans called for the Increment 2 to be a more complex and highly stealthy aircraft, last year’s wargames, some of which were led by the AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, revealed that a CCA high-end was not as useful in a Pacific. campaign as a greater number of less sophisticated autonomous drones.

Commenting on the selection, Kendall said the CCA began “a little over two years ago” as part of its “operational imperative” list of new technologies the Department of the Air Force needs to compete with China. He praised the speed of the program and the quality of the applications.

“The progress we have made is a testament to the invaluable collaboration with industry, whose investment alongside the Air Force has propelled this initiative forward.” It’s really encouraging to see the rapid execution of this program,” Kendall said.

The Air Force “executed an acquisition and financing strategy for CCA with early operators, technologists, acquirers and industrialists to quickly reiterate requirements given our fielding timelines,” he said. he adds. “Continued competition is the cornerstone of every step of this program. The transparency and teamwork between industry and government has really accelerated how quickly we have been able to scale the CCA program.

Andrew Hunter, the Air Force’s chief acquisition officer, said continued collaboration “with current and potential industry partners remains essential.” Their expertise, innovation and resources are instrumental in driving this initiative forward, ensuring its success and impact on future operations.

Kendall said at the AFA Warfare Symposium in February that he hoped to take three competitors to the next stage of the CCA program, but that budget constraints would make that difficult.

Choosing just two indicates that the service could not afford broader competition or that the industry was reluctant to share more of the program’s costs. Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet said April 23 during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call that the government should be prepared to pay a “risk premium” on contracts in which new technologies are invented, like CCAs, as many companies have done. heavy losses by aggressively bidding on fixed-price development projects.

The Air Force’s exercise of the option “does not exclude any of the suppliers from competing for the future Increment 1 production contract,” the USAF said.

Additionally, the Department of the Air Force is “exploring international partnerships, to include possible foreign military sales, under the CCA program.” These partnerships will help deliver even more affordable mass at scale while promoting horizontal integration and interoperability of our international partnerships,” the statement said. “All current and potential industry partners in the CCA Supplier Pool will compete for this tracking effort.”

The CCA is budgeted within the framework of the NGAD program; an element of the “family of systems” which constitutes the NGAD concept. The Air Force requested $577.1 million for CCA in its fiscal 2025 budget request and plans to spend $8.9 billion on it over the coming years’ defense plan. will extend to FY29.

Brian Schimpf, CEO and co-founder of Anduril, said in a statement that the company was “honored to have been selected for this unprecedented opportunity, which signals a demand for continued expansion of the defense industrial base.”

“Anduril is proud to pave the way for other non-traditional defense companies to compete and deliver large-scale programs,” Schimpf said. The company plans to work to get CCAs into the hands of Airmen “as quickly as possible,” he added.

General Atomics noted that the selection follows a successful preliminary design review of its offering earlier this year.

The CCA program “aims to be a force multiplier, developing a low-cost, modular unmanned aircraft equipped with advanced sensors or weapons and operating in collaborative teams with the next generation of manned combat aircraft,” said the society.

It also noted that its XQ-67A outboard sensor station, built for the Air Force Research Laboratory to explore autonomous drones as communications nodes, recently conducted two test flights . GA-ASI called the aircraft a “CCA prototype.”

“The CCA program redefines the future of aviation and will shape the USAF acquisition model to deliver affordable combat mass to the warfighter at the speed of relevance,” said Mike Atwood, vice president of programs advanced GA-ASI.

The company also said it will continue testing CCA technologies on its MQ-20 Avenger unmanned stealth aircraft “to accelerate readiness for operational autonomy.”

News Source : www.airandspaceforces.com
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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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