WASHINGTON — The US Air Force, the US Navy, and the US Marine Corps will have an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle that will need to increase the combat capability, accuracy, and concentration of the US military during air battles. The ‘Aggressor’ aircraft, dubbed Bandit, is a training UAV and its construction has been given the green light.
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On March 9, the Air Force Research Laboratory Aerospace Systems Directorate [AFRLASD] awarded a contract to the small North Carolina-based company Blue Force Technologies to design and build a prototype of the ‘Aggressor’ for the Pentagon. The value of the contract is $ 9 million.
“Under the Bandit program, Blue Force Technologies, small aerospace, and defense company based in North Carolina will mature a high-performance unmanned air vehicle design that pilots of [US] Air Force fighter aircraft can use to train against. The air vehicle is part of a proposed autonomous-based system providing adversary air training for [US] Air Force, [US] Navy and [US] Marine Corps fighter crews at greatly reduced costs compared to current manned capabilities,” the Air Force Research Laboratory [AFRL] at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio said.
Over the next 12 months, Blue Force Technologies is to build the autonomous UAV and conduct ground and air tests, including engine and product design tests. If all goes well, Blue Force Technologies will have to build four autonomous ‘Aggressor’ aircraft.
The future unmanned air vehicle that supports adversary air [ADAIR] training missions will provide prepared escape scenarios, threats, and adversaries, which will allow the US pilots to prepare in the face of modern threats. I.e. according to Alyson Turri, AFRL Bandit’s program manager, the company will develop a “fifth-generation adversary.”
The training drone will be able to carry a payload, and hundreds of sensors will be integrated.
The idea of a “fifth-generation adversary” to be provided to the military for training is not new. As early as 2019, Blue Force Technologies began work on developing the original requirements of the Pentagon. Analyzes were conducted, test items were built, etc. The idea of such training approaches was also supported last year when ACC Commander General Mark Kelly drew attention to “the need for alternative approaches and costly air opponents.”
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