General Atomics has shown off a concept for a carrier-capable MQ-9B drone, a type already entering service with the Royal Air Force.

Adding Short-Takeoff & Landing Capability to Industry-Leading RPA Enhances Versatility

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems have announced that it will begin developing a short takeoff and landing (STOL)-capable MQ-9B aircraft, which includes the SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian models.

“GA-ASI is taking on this revolutionary engineering effort to meet an evolving operational environment in contested expeditionary environments. GA-ASI began STOL development in 2017 as part of its Mojave initiative.”

The firm says in a news release that the STOL capability was initially flown on a modified Gray Eagle Extended Range platform in 2021, but now the company will begin developing STOL on the MQ-9B, a platform already selected by the Royal Air Force, the Belgium Ministry of Defence and the Japanese Coast Guard.

“MQ-9B STOL will combine GA-ASI’s proven long-endurance, highly reliable UAS products with the versatility to execute missions in more austere locations, opening the operational envelope for commanders across all Services and geographic locations.”

The firm also say that the MQ-9B STOL configuration will consist of an optional wing and tail kit that can be installed in less than a day.

“The core aircraft and its sub-systems remain the same. Operators can perform the modification in a hangar or on a flight line, delivering a capability that otherwise would require the purchase of a whole new aircraft.”

MQ-9B STOL, say the firm, presents an opportunity for future operations aboard an aircraft carrier or big-deck amphibious assault ship.

“The wings fold so that MQ-9B STOL could be parked on the deck or in the hangar bay, just like other naval aircraft. When it’s time to launch, operators will start the aircraft, unfold the wings, and take off over the bow without the need for catapults. GA-ASI believes the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps will take note of this innovation as it opens the door to persistent and long-range Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations over blue water.”

Could these end up on the Queen Elizabeth class?

This is speculation at best but it would certainly be possible.

The Royal Navy is moving towards drones to augment and complement the number of aircraft that can be deployed onboard their two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

Last year I reported that drones could “allow the opportunity” for Britain to put an air wing on both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales at the same time.

Drones could ‘allow’ Britain to create a second carrier air wing

The current plan is for two aircraft carriers and one air wing that would sail on whichever aircraft carrier is being held at “very high readiness”. It was however suggested at a Defence Select Committee evidence session that drones might allow for a second carrier air wing. The transcript is below.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin:

“Are we matching what the Department has always said, which is that the carrier full operating capability matures at the end of 2024 and needs to be able to deploy 24 jets on an aircraft carrier? We are absolutely on track to be able to do that, and I think that has always been a very clear aspiration and it has been laid out. Within the Navy—so not yet a departmental plan—how might we be able to look to provide a second carrier air wing? In the modern world, does that mean purely more jets, or is it what I think most of us would see as being a hybrid force of both jets and drones?”

Chair: “Littoral.”

Admiral Tony Radakin:

“No, drones from the aircraft carrier. If you look at what is going on with the Air Force and their Mosquito and LANCA programme, and if you saw what happened in September with HMS Prince of Wales flying the first jet drone, that is the area that we want to pursue. Then we can start to give Ministers choices around whether or not it might be feasible, but not at the expense of buying lots of expensive aircraft even more quickly. Are there opportunities with the cost of drones? Does it become a better offensive capability to blend drones with crewed jets? And does that then start to allow you the opportunity for two carrier air wings to marry up with both carriers?”

Drones on the carriers?

Plans to incorporate drones aren’t new, carrier-based ‘Vixen’ drones are already being considered for a range of missions including combat, aerial refuelling and airborne early warning but what could they look like?

According to an official Royal Navy publication, titled Future Maritime Aviation Force, which was originally published in December 2020, the Royal Navy aims to replace its helicopter-based airborne early warning (AEW) platform, the Merlin HM2 Crowsnest, with a fixed-wing UAV, currently known as Vixen, by 2030.

The Royal Navy also expects to utilise Vixen in surveillance, air-to-air refuelling, electronic warfare and strike roles. A slide from the publication shows that Vixen could be used for airborne early warning, strike, aerial refuelling and more.

Additionally, MQ-9B/Protector is also mentioned (albeit as a land-based platform) so the ‘STOL’ modification at least increases basing options for a platform already part of the Future Maritime Aviation Force.

You can read more about the aerial surveillance side of things by clicking here and the aerial refuelling aspect by clicking here.

What are Vixen and Mosquito?

Project Vixen parallels the Mosquito project, part of the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) initiative. Naval Technology reported here that the Royal Navy and RAF are working together to study potential platforms for Mosquito and Vixen, suggesting that a common drone could be fielded by both services. We reported recently that the uncrewed fighter aircraft demonstrator for LANCA, known as Mosquito, will begin a flight-test programme in 2023.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, gave a keynote speech at the RUSI Combat Air Power conference outlining the plan.

“Our £30m contract to design and manufacture the prototype for an uncrewed fighter aircraft, known as Mosquito, is supporting more than 100 jobs in Belfast. In 2023 we will be looking to conduct a flight-test programme for the demonstrator.”

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.

“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 UK’s first uncrewed platforms able to target and shoot down enemy aircraft and survive against surface to air missiles.”

CGI of Mosquito via Spirit AeroSystems.

Team MOSQUITO, which also includes Northrop Grumman UK, will mature the designs and manufacture a technology demonstrator to generate evidence for the 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.

“The Project will deliver a demonstration of a capability that the RAF may wish to develop further in the future,” a spokesperson from the RAF said.

“It is not intended to output an operational capability at this stage, but it will inform future decisions for the future UK combat air capability.  We are exploring the optimum way in which such capabilities could complement platforms such as Typhoon, F-35, and Tempest.”

Most commentators believe that Vixen and Mosquito are likely to share a common platform.

What is the status of MQ-9B with the UK?

The first set of V-tails manufactured by GKN Aerospace on the Isle of Wight has been fitted to one of 16 new Protector aircraft destined for the Royal Air Force.

UK built V-tail fitted to Protector drones

According to a news release from the RAF, GKN Aerospace now manufactures the V-tails for all MQ-9B aircraft variants which are manufactured by General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems-Inc (GA-ASI) at a facility in California.

The MQ-9B aircraft will be known as Protector once it enters RAF service by mid-2024.

The RAF add that Protector will be deployed in wide-ranging Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) operations where its ability to fly consistently for up to 40 hours, offers the RAF vastly improved armed ISTAR capability.

Michelle Sanders, Remotely Piloted Air Systems Delivery Team Leader, was quoted as saying:

“This milestone demonstrates the continued progress being made on this important programme which will provide the RAF with a cutting-edge capability.  As well as equipping the UK Armed Forces for operations now and into the future, this key programme promotes prosperity in the UK and supports highly-skilled jobs.”

Will these end up on the Queen Elizabeth class?

I asked a respected defence analyst, known on Twitter as @Sierra__Alpha, what he thought about this. He’s well worth a follow so please do so by clicking here. He told me:

“The prospect of a deck capable MQ-9B is one of great interest and something that many familiar with the defence industry would consider somewhat overdue. Today’s unveiling of such a platform by General Atomics, will have many Defence experts wondering as to where the platform could possibly fit into the inventory of the British Armed Forces, if at all.

For the last 18 months, the Royal Navy has been keen to explore (and even in some cases trial) a number of different unmanned aerial platforms for the primary purpose of heavy lift, including the Aeronautics T-600 quadcopter and Windracers Autonomous Systems’ Ultra Drone, although none of these trials have taken place outside of RNAS Culdrose.

The MQ-9B STOL has a number of differences from its land-based variant. Folding wings make for additional space saving, both on a burgeoning flightdeck and lower deck hangars, it’s Short Take-Off and Landing package also significantly means that ‘cats and traps’ are not necessary for the aircraft to successfully operate off the intended flightdeck, a feature that highlights a possible operational consistency with the two Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.

With its respective weapons payload (including Air to Ground Missiles, Air to Air Missiles and also the ability to deploy sonobuoys), remaining largely unchanged by the addition of STOL capabilities, the operational effectiveness of the MQ-9B STOL will remain at a high level, with Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance at the forefront of its function as part of a carrier air wing, alongside Anti-Submarine Warfare and even Oceanic Survey missions.

All of which could prove to be a valuable asset to the Royal Navy, in which as things stand, currently lacks a long range fixed wing ISTAR platform capable of delivering world beating coverage and weapons delivery from HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

The ongoing narrative of needing an unmanned, deck operated platform for the RN could be put to bed, as Royal Air Force personnel now have years of experience operating and maintaining the MQ-9 in high pressure environments and therefore, would certainly be a viable customer for the MQ-9B STOL.”

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
141 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark
Mark
5 days ago

Been beating the drum about getting this capability on QE/POW for a year. We Deffo need to get all 3 variants for all 3 services a common platform that can fit the RAF needs the navy and army.

farouk
farouk
5 days ago

Isnt this what this story a year ago was all about:

Opera Snapshot_2022-05-10_215956_ukdefencejournal.org.uk.png
Mark
Mark
5 days ago
Reply to  farouk

No traps required for Mojave so no lengthy costly installation. Can land and take off from a amphibious assault ship flat deck so would be QE/POW.

Martin
Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  Mark

LANKA and sea vixen is probably going to provide a different role but with so few F35B available and an off the shelf capability there, the RN should pick up a few. Even just 4 of these would be a game changer and they wild give the carrier an embedded long range MPA asset as well as the ability to provide persistent ISR and even strike in permissive environments. Even if we get sea vixen in numbers and the F35 fleet increase those are all capabilities you would want to retain and could not be provided by other platforms. We… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Martin
Ianbuk
Ianbuk
4 days ago
Reply to  Martin

100% agree Martin. We need a mix of fast combat and lurking drones to provide a range of capabilities from attack, refuelling and wingman. Even putting 4 of these onboard each carrier gives extra ability and a rest for the F35b deployed. Add the other drones to the mix and you have a CAP/ASW ability without launching a manned platform. The ability to send a drone of this quality 500+ miles out and delivery ASM ability puts the carrier out of range from lesser navies.

Nathan
Nathan
4 days ago
Reply to  Martin

I’d like to see Taranis developed for a long range recon and strike role. With predator, F-35s and Taranis plus Sea Vixen that’d be a deadly combination.

DRS
DRS
5 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Mojave can take off in much less runway than QE/PoW 920ft max so be a good choice or this MQ-9B. Stats for Mojave:

584266B0-F42D-4A9D-AEFC-E577E07F0EC9.jpeg
maurice10
maurice10
5 days ago
Reply to  DRS

Are any F35B’s being considered for autonomous conversion or do we have to wait for Tempest? Pilotless F35s must be part of future airframe upgrades, and the likelihood of at least 50% of QE Class carriers aircraft being autonomous by 2040?

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
4 days ago
Reply to  DRS

Those stats also don’t take into account a carrier steaming at 25 knots into the wind (essentially the Mojave would start the take off run at the equivalent of 30+ knots in benign conditions).

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
5 days ago

One can but hope.

John Clark
John Clark
5 days ago

Facinating and genuinely affordable solution…

We would absolutely need an angled deck, as you can’t have something as large as Protector hammering down the centre line, if it missed the wire!

Also, I can’t see how it would cope with ski jump, unless it was replaced with some sort of hydraulic raising and lowering jump, or just a much smaller jump, like the original design fitted to the invincible class.

In fact, with the excess power available too the F35, coupled with a long deck, is it even really necessary?

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

GA talk about it operating from LHDs, so no need for cats and traps. I thought I’d seen cgi today of it using a ski jump but can’t find it now.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Does it need a wire? GD say this Stol version can be used on the US Americas which don’t have an angled deck or cats and traps and of course a far smaller flight deck than the QE carriers. The ski jump could be a problem mind agreed though they might well be able to take off along the deck prior to the jump if they can’t handle it. Otherwise the area to the right where most like the proposed light weight launch system would no doubt go which might be able to launch them if ever fitted and again… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Spyinthesky
John Clark
John Clark
5 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Interesting, though I still feel that landing down the centre line and trying to stop would be unacceptably dangerous.

Jon
Jon
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Maybe an old-fashioned cable crash barrier could be deployed.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

I would point out the that the first ever angled flight deck so a set of painted lines on a RN carrier back in the 50’s. There is a great set of pictures on seaforce.org (link below), one of which taken for the air along the length of the carrier’s flight deck. paint an angled flight deck from port quarter to starboard just aft of the ski jump… Job done. The MQ-9B STOL has a 40 hour endurance so you’d only have to clear the starboard side of the flight deck forward once very 20 to 40 hours or so… Read more »

Jon
Jon
5 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Where did the endurance figure come from? I fruitlessly searched for it, thinking it would have to be cut down from the standard MQ-9B. (Not that it detracts from the validity of your point.)

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 days ago
Reply to  Jon

It is in the article, mate. Third para down from the picture of the Vee Tail with the Union Jack hanging from it 🙂

Cheers CR

Jon
Jon
5 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Ah. Thanks. That’s the RAF figure, not for the STOL configuration.

Last edited 5 days ago by Jon
ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Just read below that in the posts that the STOL version has a 30 hr endurance on acount it has a thicker aerofoil section and reduced wing span for carrier ops. I haven’t checked the data myself, but it sounds reasonable to me. As such I think the RN should be able in organise it’s flight programme to get these on and off the deck without interfering with, CAP’s, QRA’s, strike missions etc. It is a air traffic control problem with an aeroplance that can stay aloft for over a day! So finding a gap to send one off and… Read more »

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Based upon what?

John Clark
John Clark
5 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Err, landing down the centerline and breaking to a halt, add a bit of last minute cross wind and what could possibly go wrong …. Going down a line of parked F35’s and damaging the lot perhaps….

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
4 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

The RN appears to be happy with the risk of SRVL from much heavier F-35 landing at higher speeds…

Deep32
Deep32
5 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

MQ-9B has a wingspan of some 70ft, twice that of a F35, the flight deck would be an interesting place to be with that about to land/takeoff WRT parked planes I imagine!!
Are not the current drones we are considering for the carriers – Vixen etc a smaller design then this, well with a smaller wingspan anyway?

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
5 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

The Mojave version has a shorter wing span with a thicker chord and extra flaps etc to provide the increased lift needed for stol.

Deep32
Deep32
5 days ago

Cheers, just had a look at that version, 18 ft less wingspan then Skyguardian version, might make it considerably more attractive a proposition to the RN.

Martin
Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Yes but with a lot less duration than MQ9 B.

Deep32
Deep32
5 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Yes granted, but its designed for a different role than Vixen et al. Also not suggesting its not a good idea, just pointing out that its got a very large wingspan, which possibly adds complications to flight deck parking/movements. I know QE class are big, but it might be just another complication that might affect sortie rates. Not my field really, only an observation.

Martin
Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

If the carrier is near full load and on constant operations then it’s an issue for sure. However with comfortable space for 80 aircraft between both carriers I don’t see us ever getting up there unless sea vixen produces something amazing for a couple of million.

Deep32
Deep32
5 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Yes they certainly have the space for more airframes then we are likely to put on them, unless we need to ‘surge’ our assets.
It would be nice, but can’t personally see Vixen etc coming in at around £2mill a pop, more like at least £10-£15 mill surely!

Martin
Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

The XQ58 Valkyrie is suppose to be $2 million a go and LANCA is suppose to be similar but I am not holding my breath. Mind you BAE is not involved so maybe.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 day ago
Reply to  Martin

If that’s the case I believe we would have already ordered several hundred of them and be building in UK. At that price point it’s a no brainier, but I suspect it will be closer to £5-10m once the control centres etc are added in. unfortunately we have history here and for whatever reason the MOD has wasted millions on nothing. I was really hopeful of Taranis only for it to disappear without trace (it’s not that stealthy). even at £10m would still go with Valkyrie as it’s a 10-1 ratio against either of the current combat jets and will… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 day ago
Reply to  Pacman27

Just checked and as of a couple of years ago the MOD had spent £185m on Taranis. That money is wasted if we don’t bring to fruition.

it literally could buy 100 XQ58’s and we could have the capability, even the Barack built by turkey can’t have cost that much to get not production….

Joe16
Joe16
5 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

You’re not the first person I’ve seen raise this. Someone I understand to be very knowledgable about Naval stuff on Navy Lookout was pretty critical of the idea because of deck handling issues. I can understand the concern, but I don’t know how big of an issue it is. If both Nimitz and CdG class vessels can launch E2-D with an 80 ft wingspan (yes, I know that they’re CATOBAR, but HMSQNLZ falls roughly between the two in terms of deck size), with all kinds of other aircraft on the deck, then I can only assume that the other big… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
5 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Hi Joe, have to admit I dont know if its an issue or not, not my area. Its just that the thing has a v large wingspan, but like others have said, its not as big as Skyguardian and QE class has a wide deck. GA must be confident of its ability to land/tack off both from a structural point and from a distance perspective or why advertise the capability – although a bouncy sea state might be a challenge getting it up or down!! Personally I don’t see it being able to fill the AEW role, Ithink the weight… Read more »

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
4 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Remember the MQ-9B would only unfold its wings when on the runway, thats how the USN does it…it would fold immediately after landing.

Now think about the span of a rotating Merlin rotor…

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
5 days ago
Reply to  Martin

30 hours unarmed is not too shabby. Certainly longer than any smaller uas.

DRS
DRS
5 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Mohave 15hr ISR for 600ft take off distance is not a bad see my post above for the endurance v take off

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
4 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Whats clear from the images that General Atomics have shown is that the carrier version is a mixture of Mojave and MQ-9B. Essentially its an MQ-9B body with a wing derived from the Mojave but of a higher span.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
5 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Not a good idea to try and take off before the ski jump as there’d be an high risk of ploughing into it.

Martin
Martin
5 days ago

The incline is smooth enough for an F35 so should be no issue for MQ9B

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
5 days ago
Reply to  Martin

I was replying to SpyintheSky’s suggestion of taking off before reaching the ski jump. Far safer, as you say, to keep wheels down till coming off the ramp.

Sean
Sean
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

What wire? It doesn’t need cats or traps.
Hardly surprising as the first carriers whose manned aircraft were also prop driven didn’t need them.

Without the ramp, the F35B can’t take off with as much ordinance. And the RN did a huge amount of research, trying difference ramp angles to find the best one – so no they won’t go back to the Invincible ones.

No doubt if funded, GD will be able to enhance the drones take-off software so it can utilise the ramp too.

Last edited 5 days ago by Sean
Martin
Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Remember it has a stall speed of 54 knots and the ship is travelling at 25 knots plus wind effect. It’s fairly simple to land slow moving propeller planes on to a deck like this without arrestor wires. You only need and angled deck if there is something in front of the plane when landing. Because US CVN use a catapult they need an angled deck so they can launch and recover at the same time. CVF works more like a conventional runway so there is nothing in front of a landing aircraft.

Jon
Jon
5 days ago
Reply to  Martin

QE launches and recovers at the same time. It doesn’t maintain a clear front deck when F-35s are vertically landing at the back. Even the short rolling landing doesn’t need it.

Historically the QE class was called CVF for “future” carrier. It’s not really a carrier type. The closest current US designation for the QE hull class is just CV (maybe CVV at a pinch).

Martin
Martin
5 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Think I’ll stick with CVF since STOVL is clearly the future of carriers 😀

Last edited 5 days ago by Martin
grinch
grinch
5 days ago

Not with that undercarriage. No chance.

Sean
Sean
5 days ago
Reply to  grinch

The undercarriage is fine. It would be different if it needed cats and traps but is doesn’t.

Grinch
Grinch
5 days ago
Reply to  Sean

It’s hard to imagine an aircraft that’s more unsuitable for carrier ops.

Large wingspan, light construction, weak & narrow undercarriage, and a take off/landing requirement measured in hundreds of feet.

Even in a dead flat sea, I doubt it could take off from a QE carrier with any kind of decent payload and more than a few hours of endurance.

No chance.

Sean
Sean
5 days ago
Reply to  Grinch

You have a poor imagination then… Wingspan is an issue storing them aboard, which is why they propose folding wings – something that been seen on carriers for decades. The high height of the hanger deck on the QE Class will help here. Lightweight construction means the undercarriage doesn’t have to absorb as much force due to lower mass. It’s perfectly possible to have strong AND lightweight construction, they aren’t mutually incompatible. As for the undercarriage being “weak” – is that an assessment from its engineering specs or your hunch looking at a picture. So long as it’s take-off/ landing… Read more »

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
4 days ago
Reply to  Grinch

You’ve just described the Swordfish…

Darren
Darren
22 hours ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Now there’s a thought!

Klonkie
Klonkie
5 days ago
Reply to  grinch

I saw this posted recently. might fit the bill without cats ‘n traps.

mq-9b-stol

George Parker
George Parker
5 days ago

Thanks George, this is a really great fact pacted reference article. Just what the drone topic needed.
Adding these STOL drones to our armed forces seems a no brainer. As for Vixen and Mosquito, I certainly hope all the R&D comes up trumps, sooner rather than later. Such a stealthy “loyal wingman” has the potential to be a game changer. Much needed for an alarmingly depleted military such as ours.

John
John
5 days ago

Looks like an affordable no brainer. Drones like the mq9 obviously give a capability the carriers don’t have today. Namely long loiter time and surveillance.

I’d love to see 2-3 of these on a carrier.

Jonno
Jonno
5 days ago

Maybe Flycatcher is a better name. A biplane that could take off and land without cats and traps on carriers. Also Hornet rather than Mosquito. Just saying!

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
5 days ago

This is deffo one of the best articles that I have read here for ages. The whole concept of UAV”s operated from the carriers offers a cost-effective force multiplier. The Ukraine war is clearly showing the value of drones in the battlespace, particularly impressive is the use the UkR Army is making of $10,000 Octapod drones dropping $35 mortar shells directly onto Russian tanks and BMP. Also the astounding effectiveness of the Turkish Bayraktar The RN and RAF must resist the temptation to goldplate the engineering and at all costs keep DE&S away. The MoD should give them the money… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

That is all well and good for some things but someone had to design and build NLAWs at the time it came out the targeting system was way ahead of COTS.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
5 days ago

SAAB Bofors Dynamics designed the NLAW in Sweden to an orginal spec issued by the old DPA. It was assembled here in the UK using Thales as a subcontractor. UK MoD involvement was minimal – which is why it came in on time and on budget and more importantly, it works

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

That doesn’t take away from my central point that someone somewhere specified/designed/built NLAWs and that it was much more advanced than equivalent COTS!

A program that went right?

BTW I totally agree about not gold plating new systems and moving g fast from concept to production.

Glynn Wright
Glynn Wright
35 seconds ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

NLAW was designed, trialled, and patented by RARDE in the 1980s as a replacement for LAW 80. Every feature of what was delivered by SAAB had be trialled and covered by secret patents by 1990, just as the USSR collapsed. Even the guidance system rate sensors, eventually used by SAAB, had been brought to preproduction standard by 1990 specifically with the GST in mind. Most of the design, trials and effectiveNess work was done by Huntings under contract to RARDE.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
5 days ago

I just wonder why all the airframes have to be under the control of the RAF. If the RN had direct control of the F35’s and the drones that were going to be stationed on the carriers or indeed on any other ship this would help keep the ships at sea with at least some offensive capability not like the resent deployment of the PoW as Nato flagship with just a hand full of whirly birds.

Ian
Ian
5 days ago

Steven….A thought…… Scrap the RAF and have an Army air wing and a Naval air wing..,…
I’ll put my helmet on I think. 🪖🪖🪖

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
5 days ago
Reply to  Ian

That exact idea was banded around a few years ago, how much money would we save having to run 2 wings of the armed forces rather than 3.

I think the original idea was kiboshed by all light blue supporters in the MoD.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago

Who would be tasked with the UK’s air defence? The problem would be that all the aircraft would be chosen for specific tactical support rather than strategic. Much like what the bulk of the Russian Air Force is supposed to do, by prioritising support for the Army’s offensives. The Army predominantly led by the infantry, would focus on close air support and short ranged logistics. Similarly the Navy would prioritise aircraft that the carrier and other ships could use. So again these would be rather small, with a limited range increased through air to air refuelling. Having a third separate… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Well said. The RAF is as relevant as the other services.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
4 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

A number of years ago the UK was described as the USA’s biggest aircraft carrier by the anti American/UK element within Europe. Who best to run an aircraft carrier but the Navy. The UK’s armed forces are tasked with defending the UK so to assume that only the RAF can defend UK’s airspace is a bit of a slight on the Army and the Navy. The RAF do a good job but there is too much rivalry and competition for funds within the current tri-service approach. With limited funds we need a new approach and to think out of the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago

Great. And Space, being the big thing at the moment and an increasingly vital war domain is nearest to the RAF’s area of interest.
So lets merge the Army into the RAF!!!
😉
I jest of course, but it gets tiring the constant anti RAF bias by so many over the years.

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
4 days ago

I not anti RAF Daniele but our armed forces are top heavy so we have to look at getting money to were it will do the most good and a tri-service approach seems to be stuck in the mud at the moment with all the top brass throwing mud at the other two services to push there service into the lead position for funding at the expense of the other two services.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago

Was it ever any different? Even when we had larger forces. All 3 have their part to play and their strengths.

A better idea is removing Successor capital costs from core budget.

Then the forces would have an extra 30 billion plus a decade.

Paul Bestwick
Paul Bestwick
3 days ago

I would start be moving the pensions back out. Not sure how much it would save, but it was moved in by Osbourne,. Sot it must be significant

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul Bestwick

Agreed, 1 billion plus a year saved.

Andrew
Andrew
5 days ago
Reply to  Ian

I always though we could merge the army into the marines/RAF reg.

Simon
Simon
5 days ago

General atomics have raised expectations now, be massive step up if they could deliver.

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral
5 days ago

Would we be in the same situation as the F35b in as much as it would only be able to fire American weapons?? This is exactly the sort of platform for Spear3, sea brimstone and Martlet.
AA

Simon
Simon
5 days ago

AA , believe that UK has ordered 16 protectors for RAF , using UK brimstone and paveway. Can this operate off our carrier, wing span looks very wide etc.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Simon

Fortunately QEC is very, very wide!

Grinch
Grinch
5 days ago

.. and the deck is always empty and nevers moves around in a heavy sea.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Grinch

On that argument you would never use an aircraft carrier!

Mark
Mark
5 days ago
Reply to  Simon

Yes it has a different STOL folding wing more powerful engine and tougher landing gear.

Jon
Jon
5 days ago

Very often, especially with drones on ships, I say why do they keep just testing these things, why don’t they just get on with it and deploy them operationally? This time it’s exactly the opposite. I don’t think we need to make a decision to buy these for the carriers just yet, and unlike some others here, I don’t think they are all that cheap. However, getting a STOL conversion kit and trying it out prior to Mosquito on the carriers has to be a no brainer. The RAF need to trial Protector in STOL mode anyway, so why not… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Jon
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Jon

This is a totally different concept to Mosquito etc. It fills a different role.

This is a high persistence asset. Ideal for providing top radar cover/prosecuting ASW contacts/bomb truck/supporting RM. The list goes on and on.

It would be great to see it deployed with the carriers.

Jon
Jon
5 days ago

In retrospect maybe the idea of using Vixen both in the loyal wingman and AEW roles is wrong. (Or maybe it’s my understanding of the diagram showing Vixen in both roles that sucks.) It’s true there are many roles for a fixed wing drone and we don’t have to shoehorn all of them into a single drone. For PWAS and ISR it looks great. And if it can carry a couple each of Meteors and ASRAAMs, even better. I still say let’s trial it out and see what happens before getting too excited. If we also go ahead with Mosquito… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Jon

I think this should be trialed as the fundamentals are already known. The systems can be tested with its land launched siblings so RN can discover if it can provide the full offer and if the offer is truly useful before investing in the maranised version. The integrations can also be tested with the land launched versions. If it is as stated then it has a huge and relatively cost effective capability offer. The advantage of a huge carrier is that you can have 6-12 of these on board, providing 24/7 radar and eyes cover, + 24 F35B + Merlin… Read more »

Bringer of facts
Bringer of facts
5 days ago
Reply to  Jon

The Vixen and Mosquito are not yet mature technology and anything else is also an unknown when used on carriers , so the R&D / trials are ongoing, We need the right drone with the right weapon AND/OR sensor load out, plus defined safe operational procedures, figuring it out takes time.

TypewriterMonkey
TypewriterMonkey
5 days ago

This still poses the difficult challenge: how do you safely operate manned and unmanned aircraft alongside one another? I know this comment will be hugely unpopular here (and we are where we are, and we can’t go back) but, with hindsight, having smaller aircraft carriers, more along the lines of the US America Class, dedicated to more specific tasks (F-35B, helicopters, drones) might have been a better option? Maybe the larger carriers offer more flexibility? Judging from the Armenian and Ukraine conflicts drones are only going to become more important, so it’s important that the UK builds and retains this… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
5 days ago

Sounds good but have to be careful not to let MQ-9 compete with LANCA for QE futures. This MQ-9 news reminds us that it would be good to build a couple of ‘America’ class 40k ton LHDs with well decks.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
5 days ago

It seems a no-brainer for a cheap force multiplier, both in terms of offensive capability and more importantly reconnaissance.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 days ago

No brainer. Get a handful for each QEC. Cheap too and OTS.

Now watch MoD gold plate it and like Watchkeeper balloons to 1 billion plus!

Klonkie
Klonkie
4 days ago

😂

Klonkie
Klonkie
4 days ago

Morning DM

How are tricks? Thought you might be interested to read this mq-9b-stol

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  Klonkie

Hi my friend. All well in SUNNY Surrey!
Looks good doesn’t it? I’m reading here though from others who know far far more than me of issues with the QEC ramp for take offs, that animation does not include it. And landing too, some sort of arrestor system?

Klonkie
Klonkie
3 days ago

cheers DM- enjoy the weather! The often overlooked up side of global warming!😎

Gazzer159
Gazzer159
5 days ago

Would they not have to evaluate the landing gear if they were to be used on the ramp? or would a reconfiguration of the flight deck be needed?

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago

As an AEW platform flown from a carrier, the MQ-9 is a very poor choice! Yes, it has great endurance. But it has a relatively small fuselage and lowish max take off weight. It has flown successfully with the Leonardo’s 7500E AESA Sea Spray radar, that operates in the X-band. This is a very good radar, probably one of the most capable that you can buy off the shelf for this multi-role requirement. However, for a fleet based AEW UAV, even this most up to date radar, still suffers the same issue all X-band radars suffer. Which is poor range… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

What makes you think that it just sits over the top of the carrier?

It would be put up threat of the CSG and probably with two others aloft in a triangular formation to cover a really wider area.

So you would be looking at 200+ miles range from the carrier

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago

It doesn’t matter how far the AEW platform is from the carrier or the number of platforms used. If the radar has a limited detection range as standard like X-band radars do. It places the platform in easier reach of attacks by long range air to air missiles like the Chinese PL-15 or Russian R-37. As they can get a lot closer to the platform before they are detected. Don’t forget if you have the right electronic surveillance gear, you can detect a radar twice as far as it can detect you. For a platform carrying an X-band radar used… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Realistically you would want both as they compliment each other.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago

That would be the gold plated solution, preferably on two different aircraft, though realistically on one. Where you would combine a long range radar with the shorter range X-band radar.

By having the two radars, not only would you have a radar that can detect threats beyond their weapons engagement range. But you would also have a radar looking down towards the horizon and sea. The X-band will see low level threats whereas the lower frequency radar might miss them, especially important for detecting sea skimming missiles.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I’m not sure it has that much gold plate.

The X band really extends the range of T45/Sampson/networked Ceptor against sea skimmers.

The other is an AAW solution.

Also back to my usual point with two complimentary radars it is harder to fool all the sensors all of the time. We are not the sole masters of EW even if the Russians are spectacularly bad at it.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago

Agreed. It remains to be seen how effective the J20 and J31 are at actually reducing their radar cross sections (RCS), across a broader spectrum of radar bands. It can be expected they have a reduced RCS in the X-band, which the majority of fighter aircraft use. Along with most surface to air missile semi-active homing radar tracking radars. Against L band and in particular S and upper UHF, I doubt they will be successful. Both the E3 Sentries and E7 Wedgetail have very easily detected Su57s when they were operating over Syria. The US has had years of research… Read more »

Expat
Expat
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I’ve commented on this site many times about UK defence industry looking for gaps and creating a product. Affordable drone based AEW does appear to be one of those gaps with a number of potential customers. We certainly have industrial capability to create a product we have the requirement and there’s potential customers.

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago
Reply to  Expat

I agree, it is shocking that the UK has not at least built a Predator type of UAV. It’s not like they are a complex aircraft with state of the art aerodynamics. Instead we import UAVs like the Hermes and Reapers. That in all fairness a RC modeller could build in a shed.

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago

Just seen that the UAE’s Bombardier Global 6000’s equipped with Erieye. Also have fitted underneath the aircraft, Leonardo’s Sea Spray 7500E V2. So the best of both worlds.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
4 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I agree it sounds good.

How do you carrier launch that?

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago

Ha, if only! What we need in the UK is a company that can do quick prototyping. Where is can take an idea and run with it, without being held back by stockholder requirements. Designing an aircraft that can be carrier launched, has a decent STOL capability, is catapult and arrestor wire qualified, has plenty of volume for fuel, provides enough electrical generation and can stay on station for 10 hours or more whilst carrying a longwave and short wave radar, is not I believe overly difficult. It would depend on whether you want a keep it simple stupid design,… Read more »

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
5 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The problem with the Stingray is that it is hugely expensive. The MQ9 is relatively cheap and therefore you could have 2 or even 3 on station at a time. Clearly radar capability will increase at pace and whilst this is not a gold plated solution, remember where we are, this would be a significant improvement on a helicopter based solution. Drones, for mundane surveillance and refuelling are clearly the future.

Daveyb
Daveyb
5 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

I agree that it would be a better solution over the helicopter in some respects. A helicopter can cross deck to a frigate/destroyer for refuelling, crew change etc. Whereas a fixed wing aircraft will have a longer duration. But it won’t necessarily increase the detection range, even if it flew at 30,000ft compared to the Merlin’s 15,000ft. Flying at 30,000ft would give a theoretical radar horizon of 394km (245 miles), whist at 15,000ft, it drops to 279km (173 miles). So yes fitting an X band radar such as Sea Spray with a published detection range of over 200 miles would… Read more »

Jon
Jon
4 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The Seaspray’s published detection range is up to 320 nm (hopefully that’s not nanometres). I’m not sure if that affects your thinking. Both drones, Sea Guardian and Stingray have nominal flight ceilings >40,000 ft, marginally higher than E-2D. I imagine they’d all operate well under that anyway. It seems to me that if the enemy aircraft are flying high, they’ll be detected by the destroyers, and if low, a powerful X-band takes you well beyond the horizon. What hasn’t been discussed is that the primary role of an E-2 hasn’t been AEW for years. It’s command and control. They spend… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
4 days ago
Reply to  Jon

I would take the published figures of Sea Spray cautiously (with a pinch of salt!). This is because Leonardo have not published any specifications of the target or its radar cross section. They have not published if this was conducted at sea level or at altitude, where the air being much thinner doesn’t attenuate the signal as much. The standard is usually a fighter size target with a radar cross section (RCS) of 5m2 or 1m2. An aircraft with a 5m2 RCS is something like a Tornado, F15 or Su27 etc. Whereas, 1m2 is something like a Typhoon or Rafale.… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
3 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

excellent piece DaveyB , thanks for the informative post.

Jon
Jon
5 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

I also thought the MQ-25 ludicrously expensive, over $100m last time I checked, but it seems I haven’t been checking frequently or well enough. The issue is that they come in two parts: the drone, costing maybe £25m, and the carrier control system, costing who knows what. So when you are only buying a handful, it appears the unit price is massive. That may be a big difference between an autonomous drone, like MQ-25A, and a remotely piloted one, like MQ-9B. The other issue is that MQ-25 needs catapults and arrestors. Much of the cost is associated with refitting the… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  Jon

If the aircraft can do more than one role, it real cost comes down. Boeing have said the Stingray apart from tanking will be able to do ISTAR. Stingray has two underwing hardpoints, one for a Chobham type drogue unit. The other isn’t being used. But I would expect this being used with a recce/electronic surveillance pod. The US Navy’s priority however, is extending the range and duration of the F35C. So it remains to be seen if the Stingray will be used for other tasks. I think it will be, Although Boeing say it was not designed to be… Read more »

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
4 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

So the ideal solution would be a business jet sized UAV platform with VTOL/STOL and S&X band radar. Sounds like the V-280/V-247.

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

For a frigate/destroyer yes, I think the V247 is the ideal aircraft for an organic AEW platform, that allows the ship to expand its radar horizon and effective engagement distance. For the carrier, I’m in two minds about the V280 Valor. As a Merlin ASW replacement, I think the Valor would be ideal. Unlike the V22, the main wing and prop-rotors are correctly proportioned for the aircraft’s weight. Therefore its disc loading is more comparable to helicopter, making it nearly as efficient in the hover. When it comes to sub hunting the Valor will have an advantage when darting from… Read more »

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
3 days ago
Reply to  Daveyb

As usual DB awesome response which I’m sure will add some technical knowledge to all readers. With regard to the tanker role, I’m not sure that this is such a big deal as (a) current tankers have a huge range, so why bother with such a huge expenditure for a marginal gain (b) I have seem a response on Quora showing effective landmass/attack vectors from all the oceans on the planet and the distances, if my memory serves me right, comfortably within the range of current aircraft (800/1200 NM). With regard to the USN, to be honest they seem addicted… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Cheers mate. The RAF’s A330 MRTT has a huge ferry range and can easily stay on station for 4 to 6 hours after travelling 5000 miles. In the North Atlantic it would seem to be pretty pointless to have a carrier based tanker. Even in most other Oceans, you could be in range of the A330, if it has a friendly base to operate from. But therein lies the problem. If a Country wants to appear neutral, it will decline the use of its airspace and airbases, to protect its neutrality. Which means you may need to use one A330… Read more »

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 day ago
Reply to  Daveyb

We could use it as a tanker in the same way the USN use buddy hornets, as I believe quite a lot of fuel is used to take off having the ability to top up even 100 nm away is useful and would probably add 300nm to the range, clearly expensive but that’s carriers for you

Grinch
Grinch
5 days ago

Didn’t take long for a bit of yankee marketng speil and a couple of CGI’s before folks were declaring this to be an “ideal” and “afffordable” solution for all kinds of things. Bit sad really.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
5 days ago

As I have said before this is a no brainer, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, why not just have shorts build them for the RN under licence

donald_of_tokyo
donald_of_tokyo
5 days ago

Great concept. It will cover the long-range ASW with sonobuoys. It will also be able to tranceduce the sonobuoys siganals delivered by themselves and by Merlin HMS2. MQ-9B STOL can fly for 30 hrs, and surely its maintenance-per-flight-hour is much cheaper than Merlin. For anti-surface surveilance, it is a perfect solution. It can work as spotter and shooter, especially in low threat environment = 90% of the tasks, saving lots of money from wasting F35B and Merlin flight hours, enabling these high-end assets to be surged well when needed. I am not sure how it can be used for AEW,… Read more »

IKnowNothing
IKnowNothing
5 days ago

I would imagine that the RM contingent would also be pleased to have a loitering air asset loaded with bit shiny cameras, comms relays and things that can go bang hanging around overhead when they are doing their thing on shore

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 days ago

This was interesting too!

F/A-18s to demonstrate ability to operate from Indian aircraft carriers
11 MAY 2022

“A US Navy F/A-18E takes off from a mock-up of a UK aircraft carrier ramp at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland in August 2020. Two F/A-18Es are set to conduct ski jumps from India’s Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), which has a slightly steeper ramp, from May to June 2022.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/fa-18s-to-demonstrate-ability-to-operate-from-indian-aircraft-carriers

Last edited 5 days ago by Nigel Collins
Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
5 days ago

Anything that brings the QE/POW up to full capability gets my vote. If the carriers are to achieve full potential and warrant their cost we need to think outside the box. If not 30 plus F35’s make it 20 plus the drones. If the F35’s are used for strike the carriers need a better AAW fit to compensate for off ship protection. I know that we don’t normally look at land attack missiles on a carrier but why not, twenty TLAM?. Over the horizon special forces insertion? High panorama ELINT. All exciting stuff that would really boost the RN’s lethality.

Expat
Expat
5 days ago

There is of course another use for the stol kit which is forward operation from austere locations. Carrier or landing deck could just be the means of getting them close enough to those locations.

Frank62
Frank62
5 days ago

Couldn’t they just fit a JATO pod to them?

Jonathan
Jonathan
5 days ago

It could have its uses in the sort term as I suspect the capabilities planned by the RN are going to be some time away, so an off the shelf reasonably priced offer sound good especially if. 1) It can proved a persistent ISTAR platform 2) a persistent ASW asset, remembering any sub will not know what just dropped a buoy and will need to evade detection, so even if it’s not able to attack a sub it will make life a lot harder. 3) strike and interdiction in low threat environments, this would save a shed load of F35… Read more »

Tommo
Tommo
5 days ago

Might seem a daft question but who ,and where would Prorector be operated from Sea FAA or Land RAF ? Or will the MoD go for both options

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Well I would have both. Protector is coming in at Waddo in 2 squadrons, and stand up a FAA squadron for the QECs and put it at SeaHawk. They could even refurb bits of Predennak.

Tommo
Tommo
4 days ago

Thanks Daniele I only enquired as other UAVs are operated miles from where they are launched

Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago

I’m still a bit confused by the ‘Loyal Wingman’ role of drones by the RN/RAF. As it stands we’re talking about using them with single seat aircraft which is going to give the pilot even more to do. I must be missing something but it will be like flying 2 aircraft ??? I’d have thought it would be better to have a dedicated ‘controller’.

I do like the idea of these though, especially in the ISTAR or ASW roles, I’m sure they’re going to get more and more capable.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
3 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Whilst I believe the Loyal Wingman fashion has no real future, as it seems to have less utility than a Smart Missile, the idea is that LW would be software controlled and “slaved” (the software for this already exist for drones & firework displays!) to the aircraft, so no, no extra work for the pilots.

Andy P
Andy P
3 days ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Thank you for that OR, that helps. It does make me think you’ve got the right of it on their use long term benefit, I’d assumed that they would have more capability. I’d even envisioned a scenario where you could have a ‘control aircraft’ with 2,3 or 6 etc operators each controlling a Loyal Wingman. I might have been watching too much stuff on the SciFi channel though….. 🙄

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
2 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Well I would assume that if you have a pilot in the loop they would have access to preprogrammed Scenario options and further down the line these would be AI “Attack” “Swarm” “Decoy” etc strategies and that they would have AI integrated defensive/enemy defeat option and an element of evaluative strategy. As this is all software defined and we are in division one of AI (and I don’t mean Chinese pattern recognition so called “AI” and other nonsense), shouldn’t be a problem. But again I see no great utility in having a LW instead of a smart missile.

Mike
Mike
3 days ago

I believe the US Navy flew the U2 of carriers. Does anyone know the outcome.mike

Matt
Matt
3 days ago

I’m not up to date with this.

Are these capable of flying straight off the deck – via or bypassing the ski jump?

And is a control capability from the carrier needed versus control from Lincolnshire. I guess so. But a control cabin is perhaps just a container in the hangar or something similarly small.

Matt
Matt
3 days ago
Reply to  Matt

OK.

Have read the comments and now a bit more up to date !

Last edited 3 days ago by Matt
Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 days ago

Maybe this will be a high tier asset in the drone world. It’s really expensive. Something cheaper will be needed also. You could use one of the protector fitted with data links to then provide control of multiple cheaper drones. Using its satellite link to control far from operator and using datalinks to then control the other drones. Give the other drones a area to return to where they can be brought back using non satellite control methods. I don’t think the Turkish drones use satellite communications but I could be wrong. Whether the survivability will come from sheer numbers… Read more »

Thomas Shelby
Thomas Shelby
1 day ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Turkish drones use satcom. Anka-s, Aksungur and Akinci all has satcom. They are currently actively been used by Turkish army. STOL and more sophisticated version of tb-2 (Tb-3) will also use satcom.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 day ago

From a height perspective, Would it be possible to store and operate these or some other UCAV from the gallery deck of the QEC and leave the main hanger for a mix of F35s and helicopters.

clearly they would need to be fuelled and armed in the appropriate location, but could most of their maintenance and operational (pilot control centres) be run out of the gallery deck.

also, if the Valkyrie is so cheap as stated below, why hasn’t the UK jumped on this for its UCAS requirement? Do we really think mosquito/lanca will be cheaper?

Mannheimer
Mannheimer
1 day ago

A drone from an aircraft carrier is the idea of Selçuk Bayraktar (tb3), who is the creator of tb2. They develop tb3.