US Air Force narrows list to General Atomics, Anduril to build autonomous aircraft

By Thomson Reuters Apr 24, 2024 | 4:39 PM

(Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force (USAF) said on Wednesday that it narrowed down its list to choose General Atomics and Anduril, which will be funded for detailed designs, manufacture, and testing of production representative test vehicles for the future fleet of autonomous Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA).

The CCA program is part of an Air Force plan for a next-generation family of systems, an effort to equip crewed fighter jets and other planes with a teamed uncrewed platforms that would fly alongside the human pilots.

The selection of two awardees mean that Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin, Northop Grumman, which had hoped to be paid for the next design and testing phase would have to foot the bill themselves if they wish to continue development.

“While we are disappointed that we won’t be moving forward in this phase of the CCA program, we are undeterred in our commitment to providing next-generation autonomous combat aircraft for U.S. and global military customers,” Boeing said in response to the decision.

The Air Force is on track to make a competitive production decision for the first increment of CCA in fiscal year 2026, and field a fully operational capability before the end of the decade.

Wednesday’s Air Force’s option exercise decision does not exclude any of nearly 30 potential companies in a pool from competing for the future Increment 1 production contract.

The Air Force said it is also exploring international partnerships, to include potential Foreign Military Sales, as part of the CCA program. Planning for CCA Increment 2 development is also ongoing, it said.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)