UK launches next phase of UAS Heavy Lift challenge

by Olivia Savage

The Royal Navy trialling Windracers Autonomous Systems' Ultra fixed-wing UAS (pictured) in the UASHLC. (Crown Copyright 2022)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched Phase 2 of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Heavy Lift Capability (UASHLC) challenge.

According to the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) published on 5 August, the MoD is seeking to “support and inform the development of maritime operating concepts and enable assessment, analysis, exploration, and evaluation of the use of UAS for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) payload delivery and broader UAS capabilities”. The MoD is therefore seeking to accelerate the development of one or more suppliers' platforms, as well as the key technologies that will enhance UAS operational capabilities.

The closing date for suppliers to submit a PQQ is 5 September, with a contract expected to run from September 2022 to August 2027, the MoD said. Up to GBP95 million (USD116 million) is available for the programme, the MoD added.

The MoD was unable to provide further comment at the time of publication.


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Indra to install satcom terminals for Norwegian military

by Olivia Savage

Indra to implement satcom antennas (pictured) to enable the Norwegian military to access the WGS constellation directly. (Indra)

Indra was awarded a contract by the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency to install satellite communication (satcom) ground segments as part of the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite constellation.

Indra plans to implement X- and Ka-band nodes (antennas), “which will act as a gateway between user terminals at various locations for the WGS constellation”, the company announced on 6 October.

These WGS-certified antennas will utilise the constellation to provide satcom services, the announcement added.

According to information disclosed by the company to Janes, the terminals will enable the Norwegian military to access the WGS constellation directly and facilitate the “sharing of satellite communication between military users”.

The company added that “these terminals are to be used by the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, nevertheless, as they are WGS-certified, other end-users in the WGS constellation can acquire these terminals from Indra”.

They were unable to detail the value and delivery timeframes of the contract.


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SpearUAV unveils Viper micro-tactical loitering munition

by Robin Hughes

SpearUAV is developing a new, micro-tactical loitering munition with a precision-strike capability. (SpearUAV)

SpearUAV has detailed the development of an ultra-lightweight micro-tactical loitering munition (LM) for small tactical units − squad level and below − with a precision-strike capability against moving and stationary line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight targets.

A company spokesperson provided Janes with an update of this company-funded initiative that is the latest addition to its unmanned air system (UAS) capabilities, which include the Ninox 103 underwater submarine-launched and the Ninox 40 MT (micro-tactical) UASs.

The new Viper concept provides for a series of different calibre, lightweight, modular payloads, optionally recoverable, low acoustic/radar cross-section/thermal signature, folding quadcopter intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR)/LM systems housed in ruggedised, ready-to-deploy, hermetically sealed ‘smart' capsules. Each capsule is furnished with an integrated proprietary launch mechanism, and the capsule also acts as a wireless router between the encapsulated loitering system and the user command-and-control (C2)/ground station.


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US Navy fast-tracks contract for MQ-9 SkyTower II airborne network extension

by Richard Scott

An artist's rendering showing an MQ-9A Block 5-25 in VMU-1 colours. The SkyTower ANE pod is carried beneath the MQ-9A's left wing stores station. (NAVAIR)

The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has fast-tracked an order to provide US Marine Corps (USMC) MQ-9A Reaper unmanned air systems (UASs) with an improved airborne network extension (ANE) capability.

In a 3 October announcement, NAVAIR said it had awarded an USD8.4 million contract to multiple vendors for delivery of the SkyTower II (ST II) capability. ST II is a podded ANE solution designed to provide cross-domain communications and data relay capability for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aircraft System Expeditionary (MUX) MQ-9A Block 5-25 Reaper Medium Altitude Long-Endurance air vehicle.


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https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/uk-launches-next-phase-of-uas-heavy-lift-challenge

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has launched Phase 2 of the Unmanned Aerial Systems Heavy Lift Capa...

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