British Army chiefs are hoping that the upcoming war fighting development experiment will generate the replacement for its fleet of 221 Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk Mk 3 mini-unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Senior army officers involved in intelligence, surveillance, targeting, acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) procurement told Jane’s that they are looking at innovative technical and procurement solutions to replace the hand-launched Desert Hawk fleet, which was originally purchased with GBP38 million (USD50 million) of urgent operational requirement (UOR) funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a decade ago. The Desert Hawk fleet has since been taken into the “core” army programme and is scheduled to remain in service until 2021.
“We are looking at the options for UAVs that work to provide ISTAR support for battlegroups from 400 m out to 5 km,” said the officer, who described the Desert Hawk capability as “incredibly important”. He added, “We could do some engineering work and extend Desert Hawk in service but why shouldn’t we be more ambitious? Maybe we could go for a multirole platform that could operate as a swarm. We want that something that is able to recover if it suffers malfunctions.”
The army is looking at innovative procurement solutions for the Desert Hawk replacement, possibly involving a partnership with industry to supply hardware under a 10-year service provision arrangement to allow a high rate of technology refresh. “Under such an arrangement, the supplier would be contracted to refresh the deliverables within that time span,” the officer said. “This is something we will talk about with industry during the Army Warfighting Experiment in 2018.”
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options ihs.com/contact