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Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. announced this week the completion of a second test flight of a jet-powered unmanned aerial combat vehicle (UCAV) on November 23, 2015. the flight that took place on the US Navy test range at China Lake, CA involved a newly developed jet-powered drone developed by Kratos, and a US Navy/Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier manned jet fighter.
The flight consisted of collaborative airborne operations with a US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier. The flight evaluated command and control through the tactical data link; execution of semi-autonomous tasks; execution of autonomous flight in formation with the AV-8B; transfer of UTAP-22 control between non-line-of-sight (over the horizon) operators in the tactical network; and transfer of control (handoff) from the tactical network to an independent dedicated control link.
UTAP-22, (unmanned tactical aerial platform) was developed by Kratos as a privately funded initiative. The recent flight was the second in the currently planned three-flight series of the unmanned aircraft. According to Kratos executives who attended the demonstration, the demonstration validates the ability of low-cost, unmanned aircraft with fighter-like-performance, to operate collaboratively with tactical manned aircraft through semi-autonomous tasking and autonomous formation/wingman modes.