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AFRL Chooses General Atomics Drone for Off-Board Sensing Station Program

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has asked General Atomics to build and flight test its unmanned aircraft for the Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) program.

The AFRL awarded General Atomics and Kratos identical $17.7 million OBSS development contracts in October 2021. The development period was for 12 months.

General Atomics stated that the latest decision was taken following a critical design review of its submission, the Gambit. 

There is no information on whether Kratos has received the nod as well.

General Atomics said that the approval will validate the Gambit series’ design concept.

Flying Weapons, Sensors Bay

The OBSS is intended to be a manned aircraft extension, providing additional sensors and weapons.

For example, the platform could sport an infrared search and track sensor to passively scan stealth targets, reducing the chance the targets know they have been spotted.

Modular, Expendable

The AFRL described the desired aircraft in its 2021 notice as modular and expendable, with low maintenance costs.

“The design and manufacturing of OBSS will incorporate scalable and responsive manufacturing technologies,” the notice stated. 

“This program will continue to validate low-cost design and manufacturing approaches for the attritable class of aircraft through flight demonstration.”

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