The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) a contract to build and test fly a demonstrator aircraft for its Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) unmanned aerial system (UAS) program.
The contract award follows a 12-month base period, which saw GA-ASI and Kratos, another company that was contracted for work on the program, perform a critical design review (CDR) of their solutions.
GA-ASI revealed it offered its Gambit series aircraft to validate the “genus/species” concept first developed by AFRL as part of the Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Platform Sharing (LCAAPS) program focused on building several aircraft variants from a common core chassis.
LCAAPS is a major air vehicle effort under AFRL’s Autonomous Collaborative Enabling Technologies (ACET) portfolio, which is focused on developing technologies for Autonomous Collaborative Platforms (ACP).
OBSS is envisioned as an open-architecture system that would offer a “rapid time-to-market and low acquisition cost.” The service previously said that OBSS would be the second attritable aircraft development, with the first likely being the Skyborg attritable UAS.
“Throughout our 30-year history, GA-ASI has pioneered the advancement of unmanned aircraft systems that support our warfighters,” said GA-ASI president David R. Alexander. “AFRL is moving forward with GA-ASI because we have the right background and experience to develop the OBSS aircraft at scale and on time, and we look forward to working with them to deliver another game-changing UAS.”