Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will announce the launch of an £8 million two-year second phase of research and development, exploring the future of unmanned air systems.
The announcement will be made during a major innovation speech at the University of Oxford on Monday.
Developed in partnership with Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil, the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air Systems (RWUAS) Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD) will help investigate how unmanned air systems can support personnel on the battlefields of the future by developing new concepts and technologies.
It is understood that the CCD will include a demonstration and analysis phase involving a physical demonstrations of a vertical take-off and landing UAS and specialist sensors.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said
“Defence is working with partners across the country to harness innovation to keep this country safe and build a prosperous economy for everyone.
Backed by our rising defence budget and £178bn Equipment Plan, this joint research will deliver the understanding our Armed Forces need to maintain our military advantage in the future.”
The jointly funded programme will ‘utilise the specialist engineering skill base at Leonardo Helicopters by exploring emerging rotary wing technologies and methods’.
According to a press release, the project aims to identify, develop and exploit the opportunities offered by emerging technologies, to reduce costs and increase the agility, flexibility, resilience and persistence of UK rotary wing capability.
Chief Executive Officer of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, Tony Douglas, said:
“Investing in innovation is a priority in DE&S and research programmes, such as the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our Armed Forces have the best and most advanced equipment and support possible.
This project also highlights how we collaborate effectively with industry, utilising skills across both organisations to fully understand the emerging capabilities in the unmanned arena.”
Outlining its interest in the concept back in 2014, the MoD said:
“Head of Capability Above Water has a requirement to understand whether a multi-role RWUAS can provide utility in the mine countermeasures, hydrography and meteorology, offensive surface warfare and general situational awareness capability areas.”
It is understood RWUAS will inform future maritime UAS requirements, potentially leading to an acquisition programme.