Why attritable UAVs have aerospace manufacturers rethinking lucrative MRO and upgrades

Why attritable UAVs have aerospace manufacturers rethinking lucrative MRO and upgrades – link

Source: Flight Global

Article Headlines

  • The Pentagon’s interest in attritable UAVs, via experiments such as the Dynetics X-61A Gremlins and Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie, has aerospace manufacturers rethinking their lucrative MRO and upgrade business lines
  • Because attritable aircraft are designed to be limited-use, and cheap enough to be lost in combat or thrown-away when obsolete, the traditional model of capturing long-term business government via vendor lock – selling proprietary aircraft to the US Department of Defense and then making profits on MRO and upgrades – could be disrupted
  • While attritable aircraft won’t totally replace manned aircraft in the near term – or perhaps ever – some aerospace manufacturers are getting ready for the impacts of the new UAVs
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, maker of the US Air Force’s (USAF) MQ-9 Reaper unmanned air vehicle, believes it needs to shift its business model towards relentlessly researching, developing and fielding new technologies, despite currently making a significant amount of revenue from servicing fleets of its legacy UAVs
  • General Atomics is spending internal research and development funds to develop a new attritable jet-powered UAV called SparrowHawk, that could be air-launched from and air-recoverable by the MQ-9. The aircraft is not intended for any specific USAF program of record.
  • Aerospace firms say it is important to make attritable aircraft that are modular and have open systems architecture to enable this business strategy. Such designs make it easy for third parties to plug and play their top-of-the-line hardware or software, enhancing the value of an airframe beyond what a prime manufacturer could do on its own. Modularity also makes it easy to replace broken parts
  • That’s the thinking behind the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Kratos Defense and Security Solutions XQ-58A Valkyrie
  • The USAF’s move toward attritable aircraft is compounded by its interest in adopting aerospace rapid prototyping technologies as well as innovations, as well as hardware and software innovation from the world of Silicon Valley such as 3-D printing

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