Banshee target drones are operating from HMS Prince of Wales alongside F-35B jets.

Banshee is one of a number of target drones provided by Qinetiq, you can see more of their range by clicking here.

Aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is currently at sea for her first period of concerted training with fifth-generation F-35 Lightning stealth fighters (although the first F-35 landed onboard earlier this year).

A Banshee target drone on HMS Prince of Wales.

The carrier will soon participate in the largest military exercise in the UK, Joint Warrior, off the Scottish coast.

Another close up of the drone shows Fleet Air Arm markings.

The Banshee Jet-80 drone was developed by Qinetiq, on their website they say:

“Developed from the successful Banshee target, this twin-jet engine powered version was developed using knowledge and experience gained whilst operating the single jet engine variant which entered service in 2010.

The current version is fitted with twin 40kg thrust gas turbine engines giving a total of 80kg of static thrust. This offers an increase in the maximum straight and level airspeed of up to 180metres/second. The use of an auxiliary fuel tank ensures that endurance is similar to that of the single engine version with a typical mixed throttle mission time in excess of 45 minutes.

The Banshee Jet 80 Twin-Jet Engine Aerial Targets by QinetiQ
Banshee Jet-80 is rail launched.

When fitted with the patented Hot Nose the target provides a forward and side-looking IR source with output in Bands I, II and III, whilst the jet engines provide a realistic rearward looking IR signature. All other well proven augmentation devices traditionally available to Banshee can be fitted to this latest twin jet engine derivative.”

You can read more about the target drone here.

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Quentin D63
Quentin D63
4 days ago

A silly question to start… Is the Banshee drone recoverable or one use only?

Lusty
Lusty
4 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

They are recoverable, allowing the target to be used again. They have a parachute and can be recovered by a sea boat/helo.

I suspect this will help replace the Hawks in the aggressor role.

julian1
julian1
3 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

So they are plucked from the ocean, how do they prevent destruction by salt water? Particularly ingres via tail pipe?

Reaper
Reaper
3 days ago
Reply to  julian1

Must be total rebuild…the engine ain’t gona
like salt water.

dubbs
dubbs
16 hours ago
Reply to  julian1

remove engine and dunk in fresh water barrel ,blast with air line .Then into a barrel of liquid a bit like WD40 flush through and allow to dry the electronics are conformal coated .You can start the engine the next day , Simples

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

And the operators are out off harm’s way and cheaper to train no more towed targets Canberras or shellducks lord I’m showing my age

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

And that is in the days before safety became the thing it is now.

In those days it was OK because “we know what we are doing”…..

I recall a few hair raising incidents…..where quick thinking averted…..

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago

Exactly theirs a few Canberra crews who either went grey haired or filled their flight suits when someone didn’t get 15degrees of separation correct whoops that was close

Coll
Coll
3 days ago
Reply to  Lusty

Maybe they can parachute it onto the ship because it’s big enough area.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 days ago
Reply to  Coll

Perhaps they should have a word with Musk to see if they can get those nets that he intends to use for second takes or Rocket Lab and their heli captures of their rockets. This sounds like I might be a doddle by comprising.

Meanwhile I wonder if the parachute them over land.

BB85
BB85
4 days ago

I take it these drones don’t return with a fig leaf.

Sean
Sean
4 days ago

Would be interesting to know if the Banshees are using the ski jump for take-off.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
4 days ago
Reply to  Sean

No undercarriage, so Banshee is rail-launched and its inbuilt bouyancy allows recovery from the sea.

Sean
Sean
3 days ago

Hmm, a rail could conceivably be described as a catapult style device, so perhaps this is a contender for the RN’s recent request to industry for a drone catapult.

eclipse
eclipse
3 days ago
Reply to  Sean

No, this is far too small. A banshee is 70kg fully loaded. For the cats , they’re looking for up to 55,000 pounds (25 tonnes). And for the traps they’re looking at 47,000 pounds.

Johan
Johan
3 days ago
Reply to  Sean

Qinetiq has a design where their launch Rails run up the sides of the ski ramp.

they have been shooting drones for some time, its as they get larger the issues occur.

Something Different
Something Different
4 days ago

I wonder what the Royal Navy of 40-50 years ago would have thought about one of its capital ships communicating to the public through the use of sun glasses face and aircraft emojis. Is this cringe or a good modern way of getting the message out?

ShariotRider
ShariotRider
4 days ago

Hi Something Different,

I quite like it, makes me smile. Seeing the ships communicate directly with the public is important in this day and age and it is something the RN appears to be getting quite good at. The other thing to note is that this is building a positive image and filling a communications gap that would otherwise be taken by other less friendly players.

Cheers CR

Y Ddraig Goch
Y Ddraig Goch
3 days ago
Reply to  ShariotRider

I think that it’s a positive but it does raise expectations. While no one would expect a ship on active ops to be messaging some “silences” can be embarrassing. Case in point is when HMS Diamond’s twitter feed suddenly went quiet when she had to leave CSG21 with propulsion difficulties only to go live again a month or so later when she finally made the transit through Suez.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 days ago
Reply to  Y Ddraig Goch

Hi Y Ddraig Goch, That is a very good example. Whilst I can understand the RN / MoD wanting to paint a good picture I think a bit of honesty would help people to understand just how hard are service people really do work to protect us even when they are not on high threat operations. HMS Diamond’s engineers, I am sure, would have been working hard to try and identify and posiibly fix the problem without a stop over. When a stop over became inevitable they would have been hard at it planning the port visit work and liaising… Read more »

Jack
Jack
4 days ago

If the armed forces want to engage with the youth……….. Us old(er) fogies must just look past it 🙂

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago

It worked for Tom cruise with Top Gun the US careers offices saw a rise in recruiting for the US Navy after its release

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago

What did your dad think of your fashion/music when you were young. Times change if it works it’s worth it.

Last edited 3 days ago by David Steeper
AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago

This is a misleading headline. Just firing target drones have not the same quality as “drones operating from”

Pmichael
Pmichael
4 days ago
Reply to  George Allison

The fundamental problem is that drones can mean everything from small quadcopter drones over target drones to the massive XQ-58 Valkyrie. Journalists should call out the MoD if their PR speak is trying to imply something while it is technically not lying (too much).

AlexS
AlexS
4 days ago
Reply to  George Allison

Ship is correct, they don’t promote the banshee to drone status.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
4 days ago

So they’ve got the red ones onboard for target practice and the grey one for the photo op. I suppose it will be useful for the crew to get used to handling uas from the decks but only those who get their defence info from the tabloids will believe these have any potential for offensive use.

Reaper
Reaper
4 days ago

Strap big ass bomb to it and make it a suicide drone..

DRS
DRS
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

endurance up to 1 hour, max speed 250 m/s so could go quite far depending on radio signals, not sure if it has to be line of sight or program the let it go… The Banshee NG New Generation Aerial Targets by QinetiQ add a bomb might make it say 30 mins endurance instead… still fair distance

Mikem
Mikem
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

We already have suicide drones they are called ship to ship missiles, cruise missiles etc that can fly supersonic and carry a nasty warhead

Last edited 3 days ago by Mikem
Reaper
Reaper
3 days ago
Reply to  Mikem

Yeah on our subs tomahawk, but the 3 harpoons left isn’t exactly scary.. 30 banshees maybe upgraded faster ect would put any ship out of action, maybe.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Our SAM’s would work too. Especially with a few litres of fuel to burn.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Drones have rights to… you you dronophobic.

ShariotRider
ShariotRider
4 days ago

Hi Bloke down the pub, Couldn’t agree more, however, it does give the crew and RN early access to the type kit they may be called on to handle in the future (all be it likely to have a proper undercarriage). I also wonder if they will be launching them fro the carrier during the up coming exercise – possibly to the side of the ramp? There is a markee visible to the side of the ramp behind the red Banshee in the first phote on the Twitter feed. Perhaps the fitting of some extra equipment to launch the Banshees… Read more »

Reaper
Reaper
4 days ago

Couldn’t we strap big ass bombs to these and make them swarm suicide drones.. 30 of these coming towards you some high some low, would be terrifying.

Matt
Matt
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Even without bombs, the enemy would surely expend a lot of expensive missiles taking them all down.
[email protected]

Reaper
Reaper
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Good point, wast all their missiles and use anti ship missile.

Matt
Matt
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Agreed. This is why I quite like the idea of having a Type 31 frigate in the Carrier Strike Group. I’d rather throw a few rounds from its guns than waste missiles on cheap slow drones that are potentially only there as a screening force/missile magnets. Anything high performance can be left for the T45’s Aster missiles. Just my opinion anyway. Others would probably say, why wait, hit the target as far away as possible with missiles. But at the expense of depleting our limited missile supply, I’m not so sure. I’m eager to see more about the capability of… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

That surely is why most of the RN ships have 20/30/40mm cannons fitted?

I agree that it is pointless using expensive missiles where cheapo reloadables will do a fantastic job. Thing is you can afford to keep a lot of 30mm dumb rounds to hand as they don’t cost fortunes – even the decent ones….

The army were looking at things like 40mm with smart ammunition.

Interest is back to cannon now longer range smarter rounds are real.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago

30mm HE ,HEI, HEIT. There as good as their Aimer Haven’t the faintest where baby gunners in training do a live firing now that HMS Cambridge has gone unless they do Virtual gunnery

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Realistically most of it is done by the CMS software modules?

MiM is only there as a circuit breaker if there is error.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago

Love a live firing it’s a senses thing got you in tune with what you were trained for SU orAA can’t beat the sound and smell and the vibrations of letting loose at the of Order ‘Alarm” aircraft and trying to down a chukka, its just stripping down and sponging out that was a bummer whilst WDP ctews minced off for 4o’clockers

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
3 days ago

I see the Dutch are looking to replace their Goalkeeper ciws with a combination of short range missiles (SeaRam) and guided ordnance for 76mm guns.

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago

That is the same thoughts Italy has been having. They are getting rid of the twin super forties as CIWS. Instead they will be using the DART round from the OTO 76 as the CIWS.

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 days ago
Reply to  Matt

If we have the numbers available then I also think a T31 would be handy deployed with a CSG. It would act purely as the carriers goalkeeper, using what ever it has available to stop any leakers that get past the T45s. Dare I say it, but a sacrificial lamb to protect the carrier.

Frank62
Frank62
2 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Better we had 40mm/57mm/76mm on the carriers than the very short range 20mm Phalanx. I think taking up an AA position with just the very limited 30mm chain gun was very foolish. A proper AA gun of that caliber would be able to do everything it can plus AA.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Reminds me of Red Storm Rising where Soviet Naval Aviation used hundreds of obsolete drones to spoof the USN into expending all their Phoenix AAM before the real threat came from another quarter.

Matt
Matt
3 days ago

Tom Clancy? Must add that to my list! Hence why intelligence gathering is so important!
[email protected]

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Yes mate. Damn you’ve not read it, I say no more!

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Don’t let Jack Ryan know

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago

According to the author, when he was researching the details of the attack on the carrier fleet, he ran through a number of wargame scenarios with actual US Navy personnel. He said everyone was shocked at how effective the decoys were and how open the fleet would be without the aircraft’s long range stand-off weapons.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago

Red storm rising that’s so 1980s, read that when I was a kid. Had the computer game as well, now that was a great old game.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago

His book submarine is very good, it’s none fiction (ish) and compares a British and American boat, lot of discussion on training, culture etc it’s a not bad read, not up to the standard of understanding navel warfare etc but still good light read.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Yeah quite agree you wouldn’t see the whites of their eyes

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

Yes, it worked for Israel and the USA. That is basically how the Harop suicide drone came about. The original much smaller aircraft was used as a target drone. But then someone realised with a 4 hour endurance it would make a good surveillance drone as well. Then someone though lets fill the space behind the sensor with explosives so that it can also attack targets as well. Its worked pretty well in both Syria and Armenia. Meanwhile the USA have used target drone aircraft as decoys for a number of missions in the past, most notoriously Gulf War 1… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Scary that on the surface we seem to have ignored these sort of drones either defensively or offensively till now. It was all pretty predictable at least ten years back when the hobby drone business really started to take off.. quite literally. Clearly others haven’t, offensively anyway.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

This continued dronophobic behaviour is worrying, get help reaper, it’s it to late.

JohninMK
JohninMK
4 days ago

Could someone explain what function these Banshees fulfill?
 
I get the use of manned ‘aggressors’ for pilot training but can a Banshee replicate that in terms of air to air combat? Clearly a Banshee, but not a Hawk, can be shot down but given the cost, apart from in special circumstances; I assume that they don’t actually shoot them down.
 
As to testing the carriers defences, can it replicate an incoming subsonic missile? Ignoring the reality that the incoming AShM is almost certainly going to be supersonic.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

Not air to air. Check out CATS “Combined Aerial Target Service”, provided for years now to the MoD once we privatised its provision. ( As usual  😠  )

Our DERA, now Qinetiq, has used such drones for years from Aberporth and once upon a time LLanbedr.

Painting one in FAA grey livery is a nice touch but just PR spin.

Malcolm Rich
Malcolm Rich
3 days ago

Ahh I remember going from MoD to DRA to DERA to Qinetiq. It was cringy the way they announced the new name with the new signs on site being covered until the announcement. Then it was how the hell do you pronounce it 😅🤣😂

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Malcolm Rich

At least ranges remain MoD owned under the LTPA and the “best bits” of DERA were retained as DSTL.

I found the privatisation of DERA scandalous myself.

Always thought it pronounced like kinetic as kinetic energy.

Matt
Matt
3 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

I would like to see some developments in the area of hypersonic detection and engagement. Practicing against small drones is one thing. But if nations are perusing missiles that are getting faster and faster, that’s a threat we really need to be training for.
[email protected]

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Both Sampson and S1850M can track hypersonic targets.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Yes that’s very true. My only query here and hopefully someone might be able to illuminate on the subject, is that I have read that highly manoeuvrable hypersonic missiles take advantage of the fractional breaks in updating tracking info and predicting its movement that a rotating radar provides. Clearly Samson with two plates (potentially 3 at some stage) is designed to minimise this problem but it was never designed surely to anticipate these highly manoeuvrable hypersonic be they ballistic glide bodies or cruise. What’s the opinion on this question.

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

I like the quip -“illuminate” – lol. The issue is especially with older style mechanically scanned pulse doppler radars. Even though the radar pulse is travelling at the speed of light (in the atmosphere). It will still take time to reach the target and then bounce back. If a target is a very long distance away say over 400km. A radar will have to drop its pulse repetition frequency (PRF) and extend the pulse repetition intervals (PRIs). This is because you have to account for the time that the leading edge of the pulse hits and interacts (dwell time) with… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

It’s amusing, or scary, take your pick, that the Russians are claiming their Hypersonic missiles are effectively impossible to defend against while in recent weeks somewhat superficially contradictory, claiming their own missile defences are more than capable of defending against any prospective US Hypersonic weapon no matter how capable or fast. Equally they are claiming, and this is apparently part of their argument apparently that US inferiority in the production of Titanium alloys means they are less able to produce highly manoeuvrable hypersonic warheads ie resisting the generated heat. I can only guess that all that effort and horrendous expense,… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

There was a budget for testing things against drones…..so yes things were shot down and still are……you have to every now and again: just to be sure it all works as it should.

For a period of time this was done stateside, then subsonic came home and to keep the French happy supersonic was done with them. Which was fine when T45 was just Aster.

Now the missile mix is more complex and getting more sensitive we will need the results to stay at home.

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

The drones can be equipped with a deployable IR or radar reflective target. As per the Hawk and Canberra days, the target is reeled out via a cable, therefore if conducting live missile training the target is hit rather than the drone. The drone after its tasking, can then deploy a parachute and land then be recovered for further use. The Banshee 80 can fly as low as 5m and at speeds of 400mph. The 80+ at 450mph, whilst the new Banshee NG has a straight and level speed of over 550mph. They can be either programmed to fly via… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Yes that latter point crossed my mind.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  JohninMK

It lets you know your a bit buggered and about to be shuffled off.

Nathan
Nathan
3 days ago

Could these be used to fake an attack whilst the F-35s sneak in from some other vector….

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Nathan

Yes, The Banshee 80 has a very low cross section. They use Luneburg lenses to enhance the drones RCS. The new Banshee NG has an even smaller RCS. The issue would be range as they generally only have an endurance of about an hour, though I’m sure that could be sorted.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Could always think of Air dropping the Banshee with a payload

Reaper
Reaper
3 days ago

When we going to see it take off..? Where will the rail be? Next to ski ramp? Hanging off the side?

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Reaper

When we used the old fashion prop shellducks areal targets were launched from an RFA rather than from the target vessels

stephen jarvis
stephen jarvis
3 days ago

beautiful

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago

Hope that there’s no Woke Guardian readers browsing through this article they’re be quite annoyed that “BANSHEE” Irish folklore is being used another case of Cultral misappropriation by Colonialists boo whoo

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Yes, Shee are “Sidhe” Faerie.

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago

Thank bjesus they didn’t name it leprechaun

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

LEPRecon

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

It’s the way I tellum

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

we are all going to die……

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

If they are not careful cliodhna will come and claim ownership, just luckily she’s not been herself since the famine.
“cleena…..has not been heard ever since lamenting any of our race, though I believe she still weeps in the mountains of Drumaleaque…….where so many of the race of Eoghan Mor are dying of starvation”

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Dank da lord , whoops trying too text an impression of beautiful brogue ,alas she hasn’t been seen or heard from since the famine .I wonder if our Banshee could be adapted for famine relief Air drops I’m really treading a fine line here ,I do hope I’m not offending anyone

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Lol naa, funny is not offensive ( well sometimes but who’s perfect).

Tommo
Tommo
3 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I placed the last line in my previous post just in case A Guardian reader ventured onto UKDJ can’t go round upsetting anyone from the people’s Republic of Islington whoops done it again

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

The guardian is a perfectly good paper for general news, but just like the telegraph it’s best to take its political and social commentary with a pinch of salt. Otherwise before you know it you end up being really boring down the pub and having a fight with someone who reads the other paper…broad sheet smack downs…..love em.

Tommo
Tommo
2 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Thank you Jonathan for input concerning the said left and right angles of news consumerism ,indeed One does have too take most of their indepth correspondence no matter how thought provoking with as you said a pinch of salt .Now of to the Doctors to check on my Sodium levels

Rob
Rob
3 days ago

There has to be a future in rotary wing drones providing UK carrier strike (& smaller platforms) with surface search, AEW & tanker provision. Imagine a networked umbrella of drones providing AEW so that if you lose one the others can compensate by shifting position. They’d be able to stay on station longer being able to carry more fuel and not having to house the human interface in the aircraft. Someone, somewhere is going to invent this pretty soon.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Rob

Imagine it won’t be a long wait. I’d add 3D printers to the mix as well. The futures always hard to predict but it’s coming and it’ll look very different to the present.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 days ago
Reply to  Rob

Yes I think all the work being done with e-taxis and all the related almost endlessly varied aircraft being proposed will mean a lot of such designs directly or inspired by by it will enter the military field over the next decade. Deciding what the focus or capabilities should be and anticipating fast moving technological development will no doubt be the obvious drag on them being utilised properly I suspect. As written on this site often, using the Ajax as the prime example when a basic design enters a process of endless changes and enhancements and upgrades occur you to… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 days ago
Reply to  Rob

The USN has shown that it can network together a pair of E2D Hawkeyes along with F35Cs using MADL, CEC and Link 16. They used the F35s to stealthily inspect targets of interest, thereby allowing the air commander to make a go/no-go decision on attacking the target. For a CSG having a pair of E2Ds networked with the strike group is a massive force multiplier, as it provides a huge surveillance umbrella. The idea of using smallish rotary winged drones for AEW is I’m afraid a non-starter, as it depends on what type of rotary winged drone it is, but… Read more »

Steve
Steve
3 days ago

I noticed in the defense literature that argus is up now sale, meaning no hospital ship left in tbe fleet. Also the huskies, which surprises me, you would think they would be kept in reserve in case we need to go back into Iraq/afgan.

Frank62
Frank62
2 days ago

“180 meters a second”-Why so obtuse? Just say 413mph so everybody can understand.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 day ago
Reply to  Frank62

I suspect because 180 meters per second sounds like it could be really fast and 413 mph is just really mahhh.