Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. has announced that it has successfully performed the second flight of its Unmanned Tactical Aerial Platform (UTAP-22) on the Navy test range at China Lake, CA. This was the second flight in the currently planned three-flight series, and consisted of collaborative airborne operations with a manned fighter aircraft, an AV-8B Harrier; command and control through the tactical data link; execution of semi-autonomous tasks; execution of autonomous flight in formation with the AV-8B; transfer of UTAP-22 control between non-line-of-sight (over the horizon) operators in the tactical network; and transfer of control (handoff) from the tactical network to an independent dedicated control link.
UTAP-22, the Kratos Tactical UAS, is a high performance jet aircraft designed specifically for tactical payload operation/delivery and survivability in challenging and hostile environments. The results from this demonstration flight validate the unprecedented ability for a low-cost, unmanned aircraft with fighter-like-performance, to operate collaboratively with a manned fighter/tactical aircraft through semi-autonomous tasking and autonomous formation/wingman modes.
Jerry Beaman, President, Kratos’ Unmanned Systems Division, who was present at the test range facility for the UTAP’s second flight said, “This flight demonstrated the utility of manned/unmanned teaming operations, providing the warfighter with new capabilities as a front line force multiplier. This successful mission, our first test of manned/unmanned operations was a major step forward in our unmanned tactical aerial system strategy and road map.”
Mr. Beaman continued, “I firmly believe our UTAP-22 concept of a tactical manned aircraft teamed with unmanned aircraft capable of operating at tactical speeds, in a hostile environment, will be an affordable, effective and valuable tool for the warfighter, addressing a critical need. UTAP-22 is a Kratos internally-funded initiative, and this successful flight achieves another important milestone in establishing Kratos in the tactical unmanned systems market, and additional flights, demonstrating simultaneous UTAP-22 operations are planned for the near future.”
Eric DeMarco, Kratos’ President and CEO, said, “Kratos UTAP-22 is the most important unmanned aerial system initiative that our Company is pursuing as related to the unmanned tactical aerial vehicle market. Mr. Beaman and his team have been successfully executing a detailed strategy and plan of action for Kratos’ penetration into this new for Kratos market space, and we are now demonstrating the initial results of this currently internally funded initiative.”