San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc. said it received a $12.6 million single-award prime contract to integrate sensors into an unmanned aerial vehicle.

The award will also help Kratos (Nasdaq: KTOS) demonstrate the utility of its jet-powered UTAP-22 unmanned combat aerial system during a large and complex exercise.

Kratos executive Jerry Beaman spoke of providing pilots and commanders with “an inexpensive force multiplier and unmanned wingman.” Beaman, the president of Kratos’ Unmanned Systems Division, offered his thoughts in a statement issued by Kratos on Oct. 17.

Kratos’ work — to be coordinated with the U.S. Strategic Command and the defense secretary’s Strategic Capabilities Office — will explore the use of high-speed drones in fully autonomous or semi-autonomous roles to support fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Kratos said that as part of its effort, it has partnered with a nontraditional defense contractor (which it did not name). The partners plan to examine new, innovative controls for directing multiple high-performance unmanned aircraft.

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental awarded the deal as part of $36 million in contracts awarded during the third quarter of the calendar year.

The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, known for short as DIUx, is a 1-year-old agency of the Defense Department with offices in Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin, Texas. The agency says it exists to “ensure America’s warfighters remain on the cutting edge of technology.” DIUx borrows a lot of its structure and attitude from Silicon Valley, emphasizing speed to market.