GA-ASI selected for USAF’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft programme


GA-ASI selected for USAF’s CCA programme: San Diego, CA – April 24, 2024 – General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) to build production representative flight test articles for the Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program. This decision comes after a successful initial six-month phase that culminated in a positive preliminary design review (PDR) of GA-ASI’s CCA concept earlier this year.

The CCA program aims to revolutionize aerial combat by developing a new generation of low-cost, modular, and unmanned aircraft. These drones, equipped with advanced sensors or weapons, will operate alongside manned combat jets, acting as “force multipliers” to enhance the Air Force’s overall capabilities.

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Building on Success: XQ-67A Paves the Way

GA-ASI’s selection for the CCA program builds on their experience with the XQ-67A prototype aircraft. This successful maiden flight in February 2024 validated the “genus/species” concept – a core principle of the program. This approach involves creating multiple aircraft variants with different functionalities from a single, common design, allowing for faster development and cost-effective production.

“The CCA program redefines the future of aviation and will shape the USAF acquisition model to deliver affordable combat mass to the warfighter at the speed of relevancy,” said Mike Atwood, Vice President of Advanced Programs for GA-ASI.

GA-ASI’s design for the production CCA aircraft is based on the XQ-67A Off-Board Sensing Station, originally developed for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). This focus on sensor technology hints at the potential functionalities of the production models.

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“Throughout our 30-year history, GA-ASI has been at the forefront of rapidly advancing unmanned aircraft systems that support our warfighters,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander.

He went on to highlight GA-ASI’s proven track record in unmanned aerial systems, exemplified by their Predator RPA series, as a key factor in the Air Force’s decision. Alexander emphasized GA-ASI’s commitment to delivering “affordable combat mass” for the warfighter through large-scale production of the CCA aircraft.

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Beyond Production: Advancing Autonomy

While production is a critical step, the press release also emphasizes the ongoing development of autonomy for the CCA program. GA-ASI will continue conducting tests using the MQ-20 Avenger UAS and XQ-67A to accelerate the development of operational autonomy for these drones. These live flight tests aim to demonstrate the full mission capability of these unmanned systems, paving the way for their integration with the US Air Force’s Autonomous Collaborative Platforms (ACP) initiative.

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