If you read enough articles about the military these days, the use of drones is mentioned in many of them and for good reason; the military has a plethora of different drones in use at the present time. Over the years, they have proven to be effective tools in surveillance, intelligence gathering and even have been used for precision bombing strikes. Unfortunately, today’s drones are not without their drawbacks too. They fly slow, have limited altitude capabilities and cannot defend themselves if attacked. Apparently, the Air Force is ready for the next step in drone technology and all of this could change with the advent of a new “super drone” that is now being developed.
The Air Force has awarded a 40 million dollar developmental contract to a company out of San Diego, California known as Kratos Defense. For years now, Kratos Defense has been building high speed target drones for the Air Force and other branches of the military. This new endeavor will be a significant challenge because the Air Force has attached a laundry list of requirements for this new “super drone.”
Here are some of the requirements for the new drone that the Air Force demanded:
- Must have a 1500 nautical mile range
- Must be designed to travel near the speed of sound in short bursts
- Must be able to fly at both high and ground hugging altitudes
- Must be able to take down enemy aircraft
- Must be able to continue doing the traditional drone roles of intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance
Among the more interesting features these new drones will have are the ability to avoid anti-aircraft missiles by using what is termed “extreme agility” and they also are to be what is known as “runway independent.” The term runway independent means they can be launched and recovered from just about anywhere and this will also make them extremely difficult for enemy intelligence to spot.
Somewhat surprisingly, on this huge list of demands, it was not mentioned that the new drones have any stealth capabilities – but that is apparently all it will lack. Don’t be surprised if an updated version includes that in the future.
For bombing purposes, the aircraft will be designed to carry two GBU-39 small diameter bombs. These have become popular because of their high explosive and penetrating capabilities. Not to mention they are rumored to be deadly accurate within a less than a 5 meter range.
What will the new super drones cost? An estimate put an order of less than 100 of the drones at 3 million dollars apiece and gave an estimate of 2 million dollars apiece for an order which exceeds 100 units of them being produced. If this new drone fighter/bomber can do what it is supposed to, it will save several million dollars each over what conventional aircraft are now being made for.
This is a highly ambitious endeavor that Kratos Defense is taking but one that, if successful, can be a game changer in the skies in the event of any hostilities against us.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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