British MoD has initiated a project to develop an unmanned air vehicle known as a “loyal wingman” has received a boost with the announcement by the Ministry of Defence that a Spirit AeroSystems-led consortium is to build a full-scale test vehicle. The concept is similar to that of Royal Australian Air Force’s armed drone “Loyal Wingman”.
The Belfast, Northern Ireland-based arm of Spirit and partners, including Northrop Grumman UK, have been awarded a $41 million deal to lead a partnership, known as Team Mosquito, for building the demonstrator vehicle in time to start a test flight program by the end of 2023.
Work maturing the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft, or LANCA, will run for three years until the conclusion of the flight trials, an MoD official said.
Following completion of the demonstration phase, the Royal Air Force will analyze the data and use it to inform capability decisions, said the official.
The unmanned vehicle is part of the air force’s push to produce a low-cost machine in a fraction of the time of normal combat jets.
The Spirit Mosquito team, previously known as Blackdawn and led by Callen-Lenz , secured the deal beating out proposals from partnerships led by Boeing and Blue Bear Systems.
Spirit acquired the Belfast-based aerostructures operations of Canadian commercial and business jet builder Bombardier last year.
Northrop Grumman UK, the key partner alongside Spirit in Team Mosquito, said in a statement it will be providing model-based systems engineering and agile engineering expertise.
The company said it will also integrate its advanced mission management (AMM) and airborne communication node technologies to enable seamless human-machine collaboration and cooperative mission management across distributed manned and unmanned assets.
The MoD said further companies in the new team will be announced later.
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