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Air Force Taps KEF Robotics for Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI) for Aircraft Autonomy Software

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Award will fund further development of capabilities including navigation over water, manned/unmanned teaming, and night flight.


PITTSBURGH, PA – KEF Robotics announces it has been selected by AFWERX for a TACFI in the amount of $1,000,000 focused on aerial autonomy to address the most pressing challenges in the Department of the Air Force (DAF). The Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) process by accelerating the small business experience through faster proposal to award timelines, changing the pool of potential applicants by expanding opportunities to small business and eliminating bureaucratic overhead by continually implementing process improvement changes in contract execution. The DAF began offering the Open Topic SBIR/STTR program in 2018 which expanded the range of innovations the DAF funded and now KEF Robotics will start its journey to create and provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.


“I’ve been calling this TACFI our ‘Do Cool Stuff’ contract - this is all about flying aircraft faster, smarter, and stealthier.” said KEF’s CEO, Fraser Kitchell.  “At the same time, this is also highly operational, because the battlefield is getting swarmed with the types of low cost sUAS we’re supporting, countermeasures are highly effective, and the demand for fresh tactics is real.  We will be adding these TACFI-backed capabilities onto our customer’s aircraft as soon as they are ready.”


“We’ve already shown the capabilities of Tailwind under modern electronic warfare conditions, but this funding will help us address the capability and tactics that sUAS need to be more relevant and effective on the battlefield” said KEF CTO Kerry Snyder.


The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.


About KEF Robotics
KEF Robotics provides state-of-the-art autonomy software to fly aircraft without a human pilot.  A computer vision company at its core, KEF’s algorithms leverage cameras to enable autonomous flight across a variety of platforms and use cases. The company’s mission is to improve the safety and reliability of aircraft, expand their range and utility, and allow them to fly without GPS. KEF supports DoD customers including Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army, and Air Force.


About AFRL  

The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit




As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 370 military, civilian and contractor personnel at five hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed over 6,100 new contracts worth more than $4 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit:  


Company Press Contact:
Olga Pogoda


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