Spirit AeroSystems, a key member of Team Mosquito, have published images of how the Mosquito combat drone will look.

The uncrewed fighter aircraft demonstrator, known as Mosquito, will begin a flight-test programme in 2023.

There’s also a video, you can view it below.

According to the Royal Air Force, known as a ‘loyal wingman’ these aircraft will be able to target and shoot down enemy aircraft and intercept surface to air missiles.

Spirit AeroSystems in Belfast were recently been selected to lead Team MOSQUITO in the next phase of the project. Team MOSQUITO, which also includes Northrop Grumman UK, will mature the designs and manufacture a technology demonstrator to generate evidence for a follow-on Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) programme, you can read more about that here.

A full-scale vehicle flight-test programme is expected by the end of 2023.

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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Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago

What does Northrop Grumman do these days. Wasn’t the F14 the last major aircraft that they produced?

SubOrbital
SubOrbital
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

You mean apart from B2, X-47B and B-21?

Last edited 5 months ago by SubOrbital
Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  SubOrbital

Hmmm not too out of touch then🤪. Still, I bet even you had to think hard about that one!

RobW
RobW
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

They are also heavily involved with the F35 building the central fuselage and many of its systems, that and they produce the E2 Hawkeye.

So not much then 🙂

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  RobW

That would explain ‘volume production’ then. They must be doing other stuff though as B21 production was tiny….how do you make money on such low level production. I’m sure that the USAF and Congress are very generous with exotic projects but the day to day bread and butter work, must be elsewhere (F35 contracts would explain some of that)?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

They seem to be busy with some very interesting projects, including a trip to Mars!

https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases?page=2

Last edited 5 months ago by Nigel Collins
Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Their R&D budget must be colossal!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Not short of a few quid I’d imagine!

Trevor G
Trevor G
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

B21 production will not be tiny – current requirements are for “at least 100” at a unit cost of up to $550 million each, and there are calls for the eventual total to be even higher.

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Trevor G

Sounds like our entire defence budget 😉!

Rogbob
Rogbob
5 months ago
Reply to  Trevor G

B-2 was going to be 132 plus calls for more.

Let’s see how many actual B21s appear!

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Yes, I think they got something like 20 in the end!

dan
dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Thats 20 more than any other country on the planet. lol.

Trevor
Trevor
5 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

At the risk of being proved wrong, I think it is different this time.The Democrats seem ambivalent about replacing Minuteman as the ground based element of the nuclear triad; if B21 were cut back the whole concept of the triad to provide security falls apart. Given the worsening international climate, that would seem a step too far, at least let’s hope so!

Rogbob
Rogbob
5 months ago
Reply to  Trevor

Not sure their triad makes a lot of sense anyway personally, but, brave of you to commit 🙂

Rogbob
Rogbob
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

NG have an absolutely huge airborne electronics business – their stuff is everywhere.

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

I think that is the answer I was looking for. 😊😊

Nate m
Nate m
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

also why doesn’t Britain have any bombers any more? surely they deliver larger payloads. plus we basically imbedded bombers into military aviation with the Lancaster’s and Vulcans.

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

Expensive and too vulnerable! The Vulcan was to acquire a stand off missile…but these projects were cancelled in favour of Polaris! Large conventional payloads on the B52 caused devastation in Vietnam, but didn’t win them the war.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

The positive on this was that when State of the Art Vulcans in the 60s penetrated US air defences and ‘took out’ New York with the loss of one (out of 5) aircraft. And then despite the pre warning did it again a year later. The negative is that that was the high point of such capability I suspect. the expense unsustainable as time passed and in a country like Britain with so few places to operate them would probably be taken out before they could respond. In those respects a submarine launched deterrent is far more logical especially when… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
5 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

Too expensive, too vulnerable and a single-use platform.

If we want to go down the long-range bomber route we should make it not a large heavy bomber but a drone.

I’d say put Taranis into production, make sure it can carry large munitions such as 2,000lb Paveways or Storm Shadows, and get 2 squadrons of those plus spares.

Whilst we’re at it get another couple of squadrons; an AEW version and an A2A refuelling version to be used on the QE carriers.

dan
dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Would sure be nice if the Brits and their EU neighbors could take some of the SEAD heavy lifting from the USAF/USN. Do the Brits even have an anti radar missile or anything like the Growler?? I know they got rid of the ALARM years ago but haven’t heard about them replacing that capability. Not to mention a capability like the EC-130H Compass Call to jam radars, comms, ect.

Watcher Zero
Watcher Zero
5 months ago
Reply to  dan

Britain recognised when ALARM was reaching end of life that an Anti-Radiation missile was an obsolete concept as radar was becoming cheaper and more dispersed. The launcher is very rarely in the same location as the radar nowadays or tied to a fixed installation which couldnt just as easily be targeted with other weapons not reliant on it broadcasting its own location. So blowing up a cheap mobile dish doesnt tackle the real threat. Rather than relying on a single purpose aircraft to provide jamming for the rest of the squadron most aircraft will carry a jammer pod that can… Read more »

dan
dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

They didn’t want to spend the money on them and let the US taxpayers do it instead.

Frank62
Frank62
5 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

We have stand off misssiles that can do the job at far less risk for conventional strike plus multi-role fighters & in-flight refuelling otherwise. For nuclear strike(God forbid) we have Trident.
Apart from that, despite being c5th or 6th economy globally, we don’t have the political will or sense to turn that into decent funding for our tiny military.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

And as I state above their airborne AI platform is deemed the most advanced in the world. That just might come in a bit handy on a project like this despite a question over just how much of it will actually filter through. But then that’s the case with any American company so might as well start with the best.

Nate m
Nate m
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

will the b21s replace the b52s? they seem pretty similar in terms of roles. i mean they both are strategic bombers with conventional and nuclear capabilities.

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

I think the USAF love their Buffs too much! 😊

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Yeah I think their appeal is somewhat in the same dimension as the slogan Make America Great Again goes to the core of American symbolism even if in reality the concept is rather nebulous. Rather like using a battleship from a different age I guess as was popular for a period in the US whatever use it had in terms of power projection was nothing compared to the PR effort it offered… and perhaps that little bit of doubt it puts in your opponents minds they could do without perhaps.

dan
dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

Maybe eventually but that’s only if the B21 is bought in significant numbers. Plans are to re-engine the Buffs and use them to haul hypersonic missiles, ect.

Nate m
Nate m
5 months ago
Reply to  dan

sound a bit dangerous to me. the airframe is almost 60 odd years old! i think its time to let it go.

expat
expat
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

They also completed against Lockhead building the YF23, some say it was better than the F22. They also make the RQ4 Global Hawk.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  expat

Yes I refer to that above as I had just done so research on that. Almost everything I read it was technically superior even in stealth despite that being the supposed strength of the oppositions skill base. Very much seems it was a fit up based around politics, future competition considerations and apparently a flashy aerobatic regime by YF22 test pilots to catch the eye of the brass watching. Clearly the pilots were told to emphasise the one area where the YF22 could match or probably slightly outperform it’s competitor despite that not being the logical core quality of a… Read more »

dan
dan
5 months ago
Reply to  expat

It was rumored to be a little better in range and some aspects of stealth but inferior in maneuverability mostly because it lacked thrust vectoring and no vertical tails.

Expat
Expat
5 months ago
Reply to  dan

And weren’t Northop horribly over budget on the B2 at that time.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  SubOrbital

Indeed having just read up on the history of the YF22/YF23 project and how a winner was chosen I was more than happy to hear about NG being a partner on this. Despite the YF23 being arguably the better fighter (decidedly better many would argue) it seems that Lockheed/Boeing were deemed the more ‘reliable’ technical/business choice based it seems on work on Nighthawk while the US wanted to maintain and expand competition in future projects. Thats despite the YF23 being more stealthy, longer ranged, lighter and almost as manoeuvrable using a clever tail layout now echoed on modern proposed designs… Read more »

Expat
Expat
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Not so sure Northop excelled on the B2, it was well over budget and I think it could have tainted Northop. But what the USAF have learnt since is cutting edge stuff is complex and what happened on the B2 was not unusual as Lockheed suffered the same fate on the F22 and the F35.

heroic
heroic
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

only the 5th largest Defence company in the World😔

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  heroic

Thank God for Wiki….I should use it more!

julian1
julian1
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

The F14 was such an iconic aircraft and NOT shrouded in secrecy (and produced in smaller numbers) like those other newer aircraft mentioned. I blame Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman!

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
5 months ago
Reply to  julian1

The F14. A truly ironic aircraft. US Naval aviators still get misty eyed at the thought of it’s passing into the history books. Any time baby! 😄

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  julian1

Tom hasn’t been the same since he was last seen clinging to an A400….credit to the guy. I guess that the F14 was the last big production run of a Grumman fighter! Given that they were the mainstay of US Navy aircraft manufacturers during WW2 and the Cold War!

heroic
heroic
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Thank God for Wiki.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

I think you ignore their involvement in the Super Hornet which has been one of the arguments put forward for their not getting the YF23 decision, they would it is suggested have had too big a role in too many projects (fighter and bomber) and potentially diminished competition and thus raise costs in future projects.

dan
dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Just look at their web page. It lists all the defense related stuff they work on. Knowledge is good. lol

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
5 months ago

I’ve just finished a book about WW1 pilots flying SE5’s, Camels, Spads, Fokkers and so on and here we are with Mosquito. Astonishing times we live in.

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

It’s quite amazing how quickly things have changed from Orville and Wilbur in a very short time. Makes you wonder what it will be like in 50 or a hundred years, not that I’ll be around to see it.

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Not too sure what a green duck and a Pig have to do with this Andy😉

Last edited 5 months ago by John Clark
Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

Well Orville always wished he could fly but depending on you you speak to, he either can or can’t. 😜

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Interesting that the advance to the jet age was so meteoric yet B52s are still in active service….and will probably be so for another decade. Think about a Vickers Vimy still being operational in the late 1960s!!!!!!

Rogbob
Rogbob
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Think of it as a S shaped curve, a long time with very little progress, then a period of rapid progress where improvements come fast and relatively cheaply, then a flattening back out again of relatively little progress over a long time – also requring huge investment for each incremental improvement.

Most things in life are like that.

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Sounds very much like my love life!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Great take.

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

I read a while back some speculation that Chinooks might be the first aircraft to be in service for a 100 years. There doesn’t seem to be a mad rush to replace them now anyway.

Sorry, way off on a tangent.

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

It’s a possibility…..though I think that the B52 will get the record for the longest serving airframes. Unless there are other candidates of course!

Klonkie
Klonkie
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

I think the SAAF can claim that spot as 35 sqn is still operating DC 3s in the maritime patrol role.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Aren’t we supposed to be ordering more? Or did I dream that.

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Aye, think we’re ordering another 14, there was something about it on here, I don’t think we want to pay for them for a while though so might be a delay…. sounds familiar. 🙄

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

The Canberra designed in the early 40s seen as a stop gap till the V bombers came on line, still in RAF service in the late 90s the last leaving in 2006 (yes I had to confirm that date on wiki as I thought it might be 2005). Oh and certainly as of 2016 in much modified form still flying with NASA for high altitude weather info gathering.

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Designed by a Mr Petter who also came up with the Westland Whirlwind and, of course, lent his name to Petter engineering, manufacturers of portable diesel engines. I always thought that we could have done a lot more with the Canberra, a very useful design!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Yes he is a hero of mine from when I helped out on a Whirlwind documentary that sadly has never really taken off (ouch). I had always loved that fighter from a kid but hadn’t known too much about it until then and started doing profiles. Yes indeed ‘Petter’ was the original Westland company pre war changing the name to Westland when the aviation side was hived off from the parent and Petter himself installed as head designer. Sounds like nepotism I guess but considering his work thereafter on Lysander, Whirlwind, Canberra, Lightning and Gnat I think I might give… Read more »

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

As an aside to the two above comments I read on, I think Popular Mechanics re 6th gen concepts, a throwaway introduction on how the US (in true bigging up style) started the military aircraft revolution with the acquisition of a Wright Flyer in 1909. Sounded a little humorous in itself, but further so I think if it had mentioned come 1917 when it entered the war the US had no suitable usable Military fighter aircraft whatsoever for frontline service and for the duration of the war begged and borrowed deathtrap Nieuports and once available the very effective Spads from… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

In fairness to the Yanks, they really picked the ball up and ran with it when they put their mind to it. Less than 70 years after Kittyhawk they they were landing on the moon*.

*Or a TV studio, either way, they put stuff in space. 😉

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Yes I think that 1st WW experience truly motivated them, we all need a shot up the ass at times certainly plenty of examples this side of the pond too. I think it just the bigging up of such a less than impressive period I found amusing when considering achievements since, there really was no need to try.

Last edited 5 months ago by Spyinthesky
Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Yes, the persistent claim to have always been at the top of their game is pretty tiresome at times. But, of course, ‘isolationist’ America had no plans to engage in a European war and found themselves somewhat unprepared for the challenges. Had Theodore Roosevelt won in 1912 things might have been different. After all, as secretary to the Navy, he built an impressive fleet!

Rogbob
Rogbob
5 months ago

Weird that “Team Mosquito” emblem is a Tempest shape not the Mosquito one…

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
5 months ago

I am reminded of the Hawker Siddeley Kestral P1127 demonstrator that was developed into the Harrier and as such became much more than a technology demonstrator. This was done to avoid the development of a ‘proper’ service aircraft so was in effect a ‘cut’ in the envisaged capability. Nevertheless, the Harrier had quite the career… I wonder whether this demonstrator programme will follow the same pattern. As I see it there are three programme routes going forward: The Kestral / Harrier option that weapnonises the demonstrator. This would likely to be ‘solution’ driven, i.e. what can we achieve with this?… Read more »

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I remember seeing the P1127 at Filton going through its paces. Circa 1966 I think….few in the crowd had seen anything like it before!

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Sums up the particular problems with very new u proven projects like Kestrel and now Mosquito doesn’t it. No one really knows what the end object is and at best it’s a moving target. Even the Americans are doing program after follow up program to almost pass time till they can decide on what exactly they need the Navy and Airforce already see it very differently it seems which is why like their new fighters have different programs and which to a degree has frustrated NG’s efforts in its drone work. It’s going to be tough getting Mosquito or whatever… Read more »

Rob
Rob
5 months ago

They’ve just had an ex-reaper pilot on 5Live Radio who has PTSD brought on by sitting in a shed at RAF Waddington watching the carnage of Islamic State day after day after day. Goes to show that you can remove the physical danger with UAVs but never the mental trauma of war. Really powerful testament which readers here might want to access on BBC sounds.

Joe16
Joe16
5 months ago

Not meant to be a criticism at all, but that looks an awful lot like the Kratos system that the US tested a while back. The above image is just a bit “rrounder” in the fueselage. Only issue I recall with that particular aircraft being that it returned to earth via parachute rather than landing conventionally. Maybe that was just the model that the USAF were looking at though. The added (I hesitate to use the word) girth of the fueselage may be for undercarriage I suppose?
Last sentence in tribute to the Carry On series of films!

Herodotus
Herodotus
5 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Ooh-err matron!

Peter S
Peter S
5 months ago

Any details yet on size, weight etc? The image suggests a fairly large airframe.

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Size appears to be somewhat similar to the hawk.

It appears to have a highly loaded wing, suggesting a stable weapons platform, but not perhaps ‘extremely’ manoeuvrable.

Cost constraints will have a bearing on engine choice and materials, so let’s say, transonic performance.

I’m slightly sceptical on the apparent Air to Air capability, that suggests a very comprehensive sensor suite and means expensive, so I wonder what sort of unit price they are considering…..

I

Peter S
Peter S
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

It’s interesting that the USN has opted to procure unmanned tankers rather than combat drones to extend the strike range of their F18/35s. Strike missions would seem to be more straightforward than air to air capability. On air to air missions, it is normal to deploy aircraft in pairs. Is the loyal wingman idea to allow a single aircraft accompanied by a drone to carry out the same missions? For this to work at an affordable price, the drone will presumably rely on the aircraft’s sensors.
Cheers.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

Yes I think the sensor fit will for complex missions very much work with other assets F35 for example for the foreseeable future with Typhoon with its improvements in the loop too. The US navy wants to use them as deep strike leaving the parent manned aircraft well away from danger Im sure the RN will want to as well considering the F35b’s limited range. That is what NG were indeed working on but have been frustrated by the navy or its Masters at least not being convinced that is ready for prime time yet (or scared to commit as… Read more »

dan
dan
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter S

I think unmanned refueling aircraft are much easier to develop right now that developing the AI for combat, ect.

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
5 months ago

Can anyone remind me which British companies are members of Team Mosquito, as I can only seem to find US participants.

Glyn Dykes
Glyn Dykes
5 months ago

Will they be able to operate off of aircraft carrier’s as well as land based