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UK launches post-Mosquito ‘drone' effort

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

The UK has launched an effort to develop and bring into service unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at a faster pace than the recently cancelled Mosquito ‘loyal wingman' programme, with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announcing on 31 October that an industry day is to be held in the near future.

The 'Rapid Capabilities Office and Air Capability Industry Engagement: Low-Cost Uncrewed Air Systems (LANCA Follow-On)' project is being billed as a lessons learned endeavour, building on the Project Mosquito effort that was canned in June, as well as the Project Alvina swarming drone programme, and the MoD's wider unmanned aircraft system (UAS) experimentation efforts.

“The Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and Air Capability are considering how to best exploit low-cost UAS to support the combat air force mix as part of follow-on LANCA [Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft] activity and wider uncrewed system development,” the MoD said. “The authority will be holding an engagement day on Tuesday 29 November 2022 to inform industry of Air Capability's intent for additive/adjunct capability in the combat air force mix, and to provide industry partners with the opportunity to consider how they could best contribute to Air Capability's intent within a subsequent research and development portfolio.”

As noted in the announcement, the industry day to be held at Royal Air Force (RAF) High Wycombe will be ‘Secret UK eyes only', and of likely interest to organisations that specialise in UAS design and manufacture, propulsion, systems integration, navigation, communication, electronic warfare (EW) payloads (active and passive), autonomy, command-and-control, airworthiness, and/or certification.

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