The uncrewed fighter aircraft demonstrator, 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.”

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.”

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James Fennell
James Fennell
3 months ago

Good – and good news for the company formely known as Bombadier / Shorts (Spirit AeroSystems).

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell
James Fennell
James Fennell
3 months ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Interesting to consider what an offensive air package will look like in 2030+. Each manned platform with 2-3 unmanned platforms?

They have the advantange of being cheap and they can be put in harm’s way without endangering aircrew. Most importantly they can create mass and swarm to overwhelm A2AD.

We need to keep unit costs down. Not make them Gucci. And then buy a lot.

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Good thinking. I personally would not limit the the number of platforms for each manned platform. In theory there is no limit and the unmanned should be acting autonomously on the rules of engagement set by the manned aircraft In reality it could be anywhere between 2–200 depending upon the mission.

TrevorH
TrevorH
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

Well irrespective of numbers, maybe half of them could be cheap ‘decoys’, to fool the defences. (??)

Perhaps I’m moving beyond speculation, but it seems to me there is some logic in that.

John
John
3 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

I thought the same. From the outside and by all other appearances they should be the same. But in reality there could be a hi-low mix… some with radars, advanced targeting systems etc., whereas the others could truly be little more than decoys, perhaps these decoys could also have pylons to carry weapons that can be guided by other, smarter aircraft (f35), making them dumb flying missle trucks. If they were all cheap, the enemies may ignore them. If they were all expensive, they would be fewer in numbers and less expendable. In any case, I have long believed this… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Haha like my dummy surveillance cameras …. cat burglars please look away.

Martin
Martin
3 months ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Great news but I hope for once we actually design then deploy something, BAE have been knocking out cutting edge UAS for decades now and as soon as they are flight tested the go in the bucket. Instead of getting stuck in to another multi decade long manned fighter program with Tempest which will no doubt end up like TSR2 we would be better served by developing a family of UAS like Taranis and Mosquito with F35A or F35E slotted in as the manned aircraft if one is required.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin

What does the Taranis do though in reality rather than an ideal? Even the US hasn’t fully worked that out yet within the current limitations of technology. It’s a great demonstrator and will feed into future platforms but is it a current priority? The Tempest programme is designed to determine the answers and the potential uses of stealthy unmanned as well as manned platforms and how they can best work together. At the moment I would say the loyal wingman has a decidedly clearer criteria to be useful to the RAF ans somewhat cheaper to mature. It will likely help… Read more »

william james crawford
william james crawford
3 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

you mean criterion……..

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
3 months ago

Love the name and love the concept. Really feel that (minus the Army), some real strategy and forward thinking is creeping into the MoD

geoff
3 months ago

Loyal Wingman from Belfast!!! 🙂 🙂 My only hope is that the Wokes won’t force a change of name as the “loyal” part is a very sensitive tag in that part of the world!

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Probably no issue with them for the “loyal” part. It will most certainly be changed to “Loyal Wingperson,” however

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Issue may more likely be with using the term Loyal (i.e Loyalist) in NI

lee1
lee1
3 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Stop this stupid use of “Wokes”. It is pointless and ill informed.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
3 months ago
Reply to  lee1

Couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a cultural cancer creeping in from America and has no place here once you see how it has ripped American society to pieces

Lee Fear
Lee Fear
3 months ago

It is nothing of the sort. It was made up by right wing extremists the belittle anyone who disagreed with them. Caring about things should not be belittled… After all I am not sure you would have called Black Beard (the pirate) “Woke” yet he believed and put into action a lot of what people moan about with regard to the “woke” generation…
I get called “woke” for caring about the environment!

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
3 months ago
Reply to  Lee Fear

Oh please, spare me the nonsense and get back to Twitter

dan
dan
3 months ago
Reply to  Lee Fear

More lies by the liberal left winger BLM people. Jeez. Get a life.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  dan

Woke originated as a term for those who worked against racist, predominately violently racist attacks on African Americans. It is beyond me as to why anyone would appropriate it’s use so thoughtlessly in the way it is used today as an insult against anyone who seems to complain about things the insulters like. Says everything you need to know about their inability to actually think about what they are saying because they can’t be bothered or are too stupid to elaborate upon what exactly they don’t like about an opinion. But hey ho that’s the simplistic way this world is… Read more »

Klonkie
Klonkie
3 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Gents- whilst I do not believe this the forum for political commentary- my personal gripe is the rampant hypocrisy that is self evident across the “left”.

People are entitled to hold an opinion or view. God forbid however if yours contradict theirs. You will be labelled by them, ranging from “Facist to Racist”- they apply the very same narrative they are seeking to stop i.e. haste speech.
Open debate and civil conversation are the foundation stones of a sound and heathy democracy – God, I miss the 1980s !

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago

Totally agree. It’s malicious. Language is intrinsically linked to culture and history. The Irish who promote their language at every opportunity because it promotes their culture and values. Changing the meaning and usage of basic gender nouns and their usage is designed to undermine the foundation of western society. It is anthropological nonsense.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago

Agreed. The RN and RAF seem to be getting their act together.

It also loooks like the Government is finally trying to put its weight behind UK innovation. May be, just may be they are finally willing to back up the boast, often repeated in the Integrated Review, that the UK is 4th on the international R&D league table and is something of a innovation ‘super power’. (There phrase not mine.)

We’ll see, I guess.

Cheers CR

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I think there is one thing about Johnson I can appreciate and that is a taste for big key projects to create momentum in innovation, infrastructure and technology to generate self confidence. Yes it’s full of the usual bluster and hype but he does have a plan amongst his bluster on matters like this at least, rather than just endless committees costing fortunes and delays while coming up with ‘solutions’ that are sat on for few years while de icing how they might be implemented, caught up in argument and criticism as they do so and before they are acted… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

It is not intended to output an operational capability at this stage, but it will inform future decisions”

I don’t want to come across as hasty, and I know they need to get it right, but for how many years have we heard about this “informing”! Seems MoD UAV trials go back decades and the quote is always the same “inform…future”

We need mass! Pronto!

James Fennell
James Fennell
3 months ago

The two other programmes I know about – Kratos Valkyrie in the US and Boeing Loyal Wingman in Australia – have similar objectives. Although both aim for production eventually. Rapid protoyping is a thing in tech these days.

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Absolutely right.

It is a demonstrator of tech.

But more importantly a demonstrator of rapid deployment of tech into a flyable platform.

One of the reasons that any of this is happening so fast is that Treasury is being told what to do by No10. Forget the old Blair/Brown battles.

The new mantra seems to be ‘move very fast or get overtaken by tech’.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago

Agreed. In the US they are 3D printing a whole rocket and engine it takes about 2 weeks to produce the former while the latter they managed to determine and correct a faulty copper based material within days. Imagine how much time and how much opportunity this provides an innovative defence manufacturer.to prototype. Equally I do think that if we had committed to a hi tech drone even a few years back it likely would not have been the right choice, the loyal wingman concept has truly developed and matured this past few years but even this strongly focused platform… Read more »

Steve Hagar
Steve Hagar
3 months ago

Hi all
Will these loyal wingmen be able to operate from our carriers. If they can’t, then the F35’s we have will be on their own

ETH
ETH
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Hagar

Currently there has been no mention of such a requirement. However, ‘Project Vixen’ has recently been announced which entails the Royal Navy’s approach to unmanned systems operating from carriers.

It could be that we see these two projects converge.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
3 months ago

I agree with you there mate. Taranis was the last one, quoted as the most technically complicated project ever undertaken, or words to that effect. Let’s see something in the air not just Up in it.

Herodotus
3 months ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

At least it wasn’t ‘world beating’!

Rob
Rob
3 months ago

Amazing science, technology, engineering and maths going on here. An obvious force multiplier if successful but does it really have to be so UGLY?

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

One person’s Ugly is another person’s Divs!

Reddiebaggie
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

They are covering it with pictures of daisies

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

The A-10 is ugly as sin, even more to the Taliban, yet to the ground troops it’s beautiful.

All in the eye of the beholder.

captain p wash
captain p wash
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Is the pic not just an artist’s rendition ?

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
3 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Ugly? shame…I think it looks dangerous and probably will be.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

Geez I think it looks great … even if it may have little in common with the final product.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
3 months ago

For me this is the most interesting new from the review. I think it nods towards the mass of the armed forces in the mid-future being being drones of some shape or form. Watch this space I guess.

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
3 months ago

Interesting. Would certainly be a major step up if we can have these operational in a relatively short time.

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago

Does anyone have any idea how many Mosquitoes we are likely to get?

Seems to me we need a significant number to bolster our shrunken combat air fleet. Should be augmenting rather than replacing current manned units.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Three at a maximum I’d guess, at least until the technology is mature:

“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.”

Last edited 3 months ago by Levi Goldsteinberg
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago

I think we learnt a lot from Taranis five years ago and no doubt since.
The testing of Magma using blown air for flap free flight could very well be something that’s included on future drones and Tempest.

The UK will not be far behind its competitors, if at all!

https://www.flightglobal.com/analysis-taranis-developers-reveal-test-flight-specifics/120601.article

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Fascinating! Cheers

George Royce
George Royce
3 months ago

Great news.

KPB
KPB
3 months ago

If they’re going to be armed with AAM and data-linked, I wonder whether we’re considering a variant of this sort of tech to use this sort of tech as a ‘picket’ outboard of ships as a first line anti-ballistic missile defence? Maybe even multi-role it to carry Stingray?

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago

Let’s say these were designed for mass production and we built say 1000 to start with. Could they work with the carriers? Could they work from smaller airfields? Could these perhaps change the game?

What would be the unit cost? Could it be driven down to somewhere between 1-10 million each?

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

Yes, that was part of the MoD’s plan. They have stated that: “Lanca will be fully integrated with carrier strike.” They have also stated that it will be integrated with the F35. The recent RFI for catapult and recovery operations also point to this. It would make perfect sense to build Mosquito to be carrier catapult compatible rather than developing two separate airframes.

Jonny
Jonny
3 months ago

Taranis looked amazing, why don’t they continue working off of that?

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonny

Cheap and cheerful is the only thing that makes sense.

James Fennell
James Fennell
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonny

It is good we waited, AI has improved massively since Taranis. Taranis was expensive and pretty dumb. These will be cheaper and much smarter.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Totally agree this is the present future so to speak and Taranis simply cannot be close to frozen in terms of technology to make it production-able. Mosquito is far more achievable and useful and will be useful too in furthering a platform like Taranis or Magna. To be useful they would have to be incredibly advanced and capable and if it’s a recon platform no guarantee it would be survivable even then. Too many questions remain unanswered.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonny

Again I ask to do what? It’s not a loyal wingman it’s needs to be incredibly self sufficient and what is it’s role? Lots of questions and it’s totally different to a loyal wingman concept which has focused numerous roles can be smaller more manoeuvrable, cheaper, more adaptable, less advanced to be mission useful and far more flexible, they don’t even have to be anywhere near as stealthy even, for most missions and can be relatively expendable. They are Completely different beasts at this stage of the game. A platform like Taranis probably has a future but if a production… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
3 months ago

So we have Mosquito…most likely partner the Typhoon (?); even one on one would double the strike force; cats and traps for the carriers(?) so will we see an R.N. version. Also if Typhoon were able to operate with Mosquito and stand off weapons would more F35,s be available for the second carrier? Interesting times.

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago

That thing looks evil…. much prefer the previous version with birch wood, plywood and a pair of Merlin engines….

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Plywood…very stealthy 🙂

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Well they are, sort of – see link below.

https://www.thewoodenwonder.org.uk/

This is not a restoration, but a new build. The CAA being what they are are limiting the top speed to 250mph. Hopefully this is only probationary.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Well there is the mosquito project which I presume this is not related to. So there will eventually be a Mossie in the skies here one day. The prototype at the Mossie Museum is looking fantastic again too from what I hear. But I am looking forward to the Hornet restoration though mostly a complete rebuild in reality, always loved that aircraft possibly the best piston engined fighter ever built so would be great to have one of those to admire, though maybe a big ask as there is so little left of them to work with and an even… Read more »

john melling
john melling
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Birchwood and Plywood.. hmm way too expensive! I will give you Balsa Wood 😉

Marked
Marked
3 months ago

Hopefully there is a real intent to make these systems work.

The low number of typhoons and lightnings has a whole different vibe to it if they will be accompanied by supporting uav’s…

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Yes. They only make sense as low cost mass produced force multipliers. If anyone mentions 48 it is a complete waste of time and money. 4,800 maybe.

James Fennell
James Fennell
3 months ago
Reply to  Marked

2-4 per manned platform. They can also work with E7, P8 loitering in the air defence or anti-shipping / ant-sub role, and then racing off to intercept – taking data from the E7 or P8’s sensors. Can also be used as a network – say a swarm is fitted with AESA panels – can operate as a huge airborne radar. They can easily have 3-4,000km range and carry around 4,000lbs. Swarms can be used for electroinic attack to ensure cruise missile get through, or to protect manned platforms.

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell
George
George
3 months ago

Hi folks hope all is well.
Could these be developed for the carriers?.
Anyway this is good news and may reflect the investment in the technology as described in the Defense review paper published last week.
Cheers,
George

Peter S
Peter S
3 months ago

Does anyone connected to the MOD speak English? And ministers endlessly repeating “world beating” just makes them a target for ridicule.

Paul Christmas
Paul Christmas
3 months ago

I would presume ultimately the technology would enable ground or air based control the ability to send a flight of these to an enemy target then return when mission accomplished or ordnance depleted. AI plus human interfaces will make this very interesting in the 2030s

Klonkie
Klonkie
3 months ago

greetings all

I imagine the reduction in typhoons (and probably sqns cuts) will release funds for these platforms. Really interested in understanding how they will be deployed – as separate sqns or integrated into existing typhoon/Ff35 units
Any insights folks?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Klonkie

This mate. Exactly. Same station even?

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

If you really take this concept to the limit you really need to start to thinking what does the crewed element look like. Is a single pilot fighter really the right platform for this ? Or does your crewed aircraft become something different, with lots of bandwidth, number crunching, greater range and loiter times, maybe a way to refuel drones in flight, launch new drones, have a larger crew and some comforts for that longer loiter. Suddenly your very expensive fighter supporting a few drones comes face to face with drone mother, the beast supporting hundreds of drones with all… Read more »

Andy a
Andy a
3 months ago

With current hard times would it not make more sense to chip in with Australia and Boeing? It’s already flying

James Fennell
James Fennell
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy a

I think the Defence Industrial Strategy and the £6.6Bn for research are focussed on automation and AI. I’m sure a collaboration is an option, although I think the Brit concept is slightly different. The Boeing Aus concept is a single large Loyal Wingman per aircraft, the Northrop Grumman UK concept is 2-3 smaller swarming Loyal Wingman per manned platform. Lets see how they compare.

Last edited 3 months ago by James Fennell