The much-awaited Thanatos drone has finally been revealed in a rendering by premier aerospace and defense technology company Kratos.
The announcement coincided with Kratos’ financial results for the third quarter of 2023. This new drone represents a significant leap in Kratos’ unmanned aircraft portfolio and promises to play a pivotal role in the future of air combat technology.
While the identity of the potential customer remains undisclosed, the rendering includes a US Air Force logo, suggesting a solid connection to the service’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft program and other advanced drone initiatives.
The Thanatos rendering provides a sneak peek at a tailless, uncrewed aircraft with a range of textbook, low-observable, or stealth features.
These include a shovel nose design, a deep chine line, blended and recessed inlets, and a distinctive platypus-like trailing edge extension concealing a recessed exhaust.
The combination of these features not only enhances radar stealth but also significantly reduces the aircraft’s infrared signature.
Thanatos also boasts diamond-shaped wings, contributing to reduced drag at high subsonic and supersonic speeds, making it a versatile and formidable asset for various missions.
Thanatos Drone Concept
Kratos, historically known for its target drones used in test, training, and research and development activities, has taken a significant step forward with Thanatos.
This cutting-edge drone concept showcases the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of unmanned aerial technology.
The presence of both the Kratos logo and the US Air Force logo in the rendering strongly suggests that the Air Force is the likely customer for this advanced drone.
The US Air Force has been actively pursuing a future fleet of advanced drones designed to operate closely with crewed combat jets, particularly as part of its Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program.
While the exact program or programs for which Thanatos was developed remains shrouded in secrecy, the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft program offers some clues.
The program is focused on enabling drones to serve as weapon platforms equipped with air-to-air missiles, additional sensing nodes, and electronic warfare capabilities, all designed to work in tandem with crewed fighter jets.
The possibilities for Thanatos, or drones like it, extend beyond these initial roles. These advanced autonomous drones could collaborate with a broader array of crewed platforms, including stealth bombers like the B-21 Raider, and operate independently in various mission profiles.
As Kratos continues discussions with its potential customers, the unveiling of the Thanatos drone marks a significant milestone in the evolution of drone technology.
It hints at the transformative role it could play in the future of air combat. The secrets of this drone’s full capabilities and intended mission profiles are yet to be fully revealed. Still, one thing is sure – Thanatos represents a promising leap forward in unmanned aerial systems.