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UK sets out FTUAS requirement to counter FIAC threat

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has outlined an accelerated plan to acquire a number of uncrewed air systems and ancillaries to meet a Royal Navy (RN) requirement for enhanced situational awareness to counter fast inshore attack craft (FIAC) threats in an operational theatre.

Announcing the Flexible Tactical Uncrewed Air System (FTUAS) urgent capability requirement (UCR) on 25 May, the MoD said it was seeking a military owned and operated solution to find, fix, track, and assess FIACs – both crewed and uncrewed – operating alone or in large numbers.

The FTUAS system is planned to achieve an initial operating capability (IOC) in mid-2023 and will permanently embark on a forward-deployed naval warship to provide “a persistent, intimate, integrated, and assured capability”. While the operational theatre has not been specifically identified, it is likely to be the Gulf given the nature of the Iranian FIAC threat in that region.

According to the MoD, the requirements of the FTUAS are expected to condition the need for a rotary-wing air vehicle able to operate embarked within the constraints posed by a naval warship, an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor suite including a maritime surveillance radar (required to perform area surveillance or ‘find' at sufficient range from the parent ship), and an ability to collect, disseminate, and process information in a format compatible with a shipborne combat management system. Additionally, the timescales of the UCR mean that the chosen solution will most likely be a mature commercial or military off-the-shelf system requiring little adaptation or modification to meet the requirement and be deployable in the operational theatre at sea.

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