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UK launches Defence Drone Strategy

The Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge, unveiling the UK's Defence Drone Strategy at Malloy Aeronautics factory in Maidenhead in February 2024. (Crown Copyright)

The UK unveiled its Defence Drone Strategy on 22 February to accelerate the adoption and development of unmanned systems across air, sea, and land for the armed forces.

Backed by GBP4.5 billion (USD5.6 billion) worth of investment over the next decade, the strategy aims to enable rapid experimentation and development of unmanned systems, unify the front-line commands approach, and promote collaboration with industry, Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge, told Janes and other media representatives at the strategy launch event in Maidenhead.

As part of this investment, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) will seek to harness unmanned systems in areas pertaining to naval mine warfare clearance, one-way attack, heavy lift, and intelligence and surveillance, the strategy detailed. When pressed about which area is considered a top priority, especially regarding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Cartlidge told Janes they “don't have a specific list yet”.

He continued by saying that “drones have revolutionised warfare” in Ukraine, inspiring the creation of the strategy. The MoD will continue to draw lessons from this conflict to stimulate innovation and production for the front-line commands, co-ordinated and integrated by Strategic Command, to bolster “the mass, lethality, and survivability of our own armed forces”, he added.

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