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QinetiQ demonstrates jet-to-jet MUM-T for first time in the UK

An artist's impression of a demonstration announced on 25 April, in which QinetiQ for the first time in the UK demonstrated MUM-T between jet aircraft. (QinetiQ)

QinetiQ has for the first time in the UK demonstrated manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) between jet aircraft.

Announced by the company on 25 April, the demonstration at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Boscombe Down site in southern England saw a manned BAe 146 testbed aircraft provide inflight tasking to a modified unmanned Banshee Jet 80 target drone.

“The success of this trial demonstrates that the combination of [MUM-T] between current front-line combat aircraft and next-generation drones can be potentially achieved successfully with the existing combat air fleet, while offering the potential to increase combat capability in an affordable manner,” QinetiQ said, adding that the mission was completed not only by the live Banshee but also a number of digital Banshees within a live-virtual swarm.

For the demonstration, the Banshee was equipped with QinetiQ's Airborne Command and Control for Swarm Interoperable Missions (ACCSIOM) technology, which, the company said, enabled the drone to communicate with the manned aircraft using the same messaging format as the standard NATO Link 16 datalink.

“Instrumental to the deployment of autonomous air platforms, the technology provides an airborne gateway, which can receive and translate both long-range and short-range communications between drones while in-built safety systems can override the autonomy to ensure the drone stays at all times within a safe operating area,” QinetiQ said.

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