Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has announced that the company’s Unmanned Systems Division is opening administrative and engineering offices and production facilities in Oklahoma City to accommodate expected increased demand for high performance, jet powered unmanned aerial tactical and target drone systems.
“Advanced military target drones with fighter-like performance have been the mainstay of our company and we have come to dominate that market as our customers are replacing their drone fleets with the latest technology, and as a result, orders have increased substantially,” said Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division.
Referring to a recent Aviation Week and Space Technology article entitled, “Kratos Expands Target Drone Business,” which discusses, “Target Drones with Fighter Like Performance;” Fendley commented, “This is Kratos’ niche in the unmanned aircraft arena, and the article reports that more than 1,500 MQM-107 target aircraft were produced. Our BQM-167, already in production with the USAF since the mid 2000’s has now also been selected as the replacement for the MQM-107 and begins production for the U.S. Army this year. We see the potential as even greater than for the heritage 107s with the increased capabilities our 167 offers. In addition, our tactical UAS drone systems have generated significant interest and we expect to be focusing these efforts and ramping up production of these tactical aircraft in Oklahoma.”
Kratos recently announced a $23 million unmanned aerial drone system production award from an unnamed customer and a $93 million contract to supply target drones to the Army. This most recent contract makes Kratos the sole supplier of jet-powered, sub-scale target drones to all branches of the U.S. military. Kratos’ unmanned target drones recently participated in Exercise Formidable Shield 2017, a live-fire integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) exercise conducted by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO on behalf of U.S. 6th Fleet.
Kratos is also currently under contract to develop and demonstrate high performance tactical drone systems that act as a loyal wingman to manned fighter aircraft or can operate independently. The company’s Mako tactical unmanned aerial drone system completed its initial successful test flights in 2015 and most recently participated in a major military exercise, with additional flights planned for this year. Kratos is scheduled to deliver its next generation tactical drone, the Valkyrie, in 2018.
Eric DeMarco, President and CEO of Kratos, said: “Kratos is focused on delivering technology and products for greater effectiveness at an affordable cost for our customers, and our new facility in Oklahoma City is another step forward in the successful execution of that strategy.”
“I am pleased to welcome Kratos to Oklahoma. With our skilled workforce and longstanding commitment to supporting our Armed Forces, Oklahoma is an excellent choice for Kratos’ new facility for tactical drone systems,” said U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). “Kratos, a leader in developing drone technology and producing tactical drone systems to support our military, will create hundreds of high-paying jobs in Oklahoma City and grow our economy.”
Kratos will continue target drone production from its existing Sacramento facility, with a significant production ramp up having already begun at that facility, and expected to increase even more over the next 24 months. Oklahoma will be the site for new tactical drone production and excess demand requirements related to target drone production.
Kratos is initially occupying an 8,800 square foot facility in Oklahoma City, not far from Tinker AFB, where the initial focus will be on engineering and production planning. Within six months, the company plans to expand into a 75,000 square foot facility to support its initial production efforts in OK. The company expects to employ more than 350 workers in Oklahoma within the next few years.