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UK issues RFI for shipborne aircraft launch and recovery equipment

Almost a decade after dropping plans to introduce catapults and arrestor gear on one of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is seeking to be appraised on shipborne assisted launch and arrested recovery systems applicable to both crewed and uncrewed air vehicles.

In a request for information (RFI) released on 24 February, the MoD said it was seeking information on technologies and capabilities that would be sufficiently mature to fit to a vessel in the mid-2020s. Inputs from industry will inform the development of the Royal Navy’s (RN's) Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF) and support future decision making regarding potential air vehicle choices.

The RN, through FMAF, is looking to introduce a range of uncrewed air vehicles into service and to provide wider options for the use of different air vehicle types within the fleet. This builds on concept development activity already undertaken in the MoD, which has explored the potential integration of unmanned air vehicles as part of, or as a complement to, the carrier air wing.

The MoD said it was seeking information “in order to qualify requirements and develop our understanding of the potential for the market to provide assisted launch and arrested recovery for a range of air vehicles, which would be suitable to fit to a vessel within three to five years”. It added, “The [MoD] wishes to assess the availability of electromagnetic catapult, and arrestor wire systems for the launch and recovery of air vehicles [and seeks information] in relation to potential solutions which are sufficiently technically mature to be fitted to a suitable ship from 2023.”

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