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Farnborough 2022: RAF to launch post-Mosquito ‘drone' effort later in 2022

BAE Systems showcased some of its new UAV design concepts at the Royal International Air Tattoo just ahead of the Farnborough Airshow. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is to launch an industry effort to develop and bring into service unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at a faster pace than the recently cancelled Mosquito ‘loyal wingman' programme.

Speaking ahead of the Farnborough Airshow, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, said that this effort will be launched in the third quarter of 2022, as his service seeks to take ‘in another direction' the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) programme that spawned the Mosquito.

“Our work to explore uncrewed aircraft and how they might augment [Lockheed Martin] F-35 and [Eurofighter] Typhoon [manned combat aircraft] continues. The work has been challenging, but we have learned and gained a huge amount from our Mosquito programme around digital design and novel manufacturing techniques. We've decided that our focus now should be on systems that can be operationalised much more quickly, and that is why we have drawn the Mosquito programme to a close. [However], we are moving on fast, and ... in the autumn we will unveil a series of targeted challenge areas that we want to drive forward at pace with industry, our science and technology partners, and internationally too,” ACM Wigston said at the 2022 Air & Space Power Association's Global Air Chiefs' Conference in London. “So, look out for our Rapid Capabilities Office [RCO] launching a series of industry competitions to accelerate scalable uncrewed systems culminating in an operational fly-off to get those systems on the front line, delivering for the warfighter faster and better.”

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