The UK’s first fleet of uncrewed fighter aircraft is one step closer to reality following the award of a £30 million contract to design and manufacture a prototype in a three-year deal supporting more than 100 jobs in Belfast.
According to the Royal Air Force, the uncrewed combat aircraft will be designed to fly at high-speed alongside fighter jets, armed with missiles, surveillance and electronic warfare technology to provide a battle-winning advantage over hostile forces.
“Known as a ‘loyal wingman’, these aircraft will be the first uncrewed platforms able to target and shoot down enemy aircraft and intercept surface to air missiles.
In a boost for Northern Ireland’s defence industry, Spirit AeroSystems have been selected to lead Team MOSQUITO in the next phase of the project.”
Team MOSQUITO, which also includes Northrop Grumman UK, will mature the designs and manufacture a technology demonstrator to generate evidence for a follow-on LANCA programme. If successful, Project Mosquito’s findings could lead to this revolutionary capability being deployed alongside the Typhoon and F-35 Lightning jets by the end of the decade.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff said:
“We’re taking a revolutionary approach, looking at a game-changing mix of swarming drones and uncrewed fighter aircraft like Mosquito, alongside piloted fighters like Tempest, that will transform the combat battlespace in a way not seen since the advent of the jet age.”
A full-scale vehicle flight-test programme is expected by the end of 2023.