The Royal Navy are urgently looking for drones to be integrated onto forward deployed warships to to counter fast attack craft.

A tender to industry specifies that the bidder must have the ability to supply a ‘Rotary Wing Air Vehicle’ able to operate embarked within the constraints posed by a warship, with integrated Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (including a Maritime Surface Surveillance Radar), and the Air System must be able to supply/disseminate/process information.

The tendering notice reads as follows:

“The requirement is for the provision of a number of Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS) and ancillaries under a Military Owned Military Operated (MOMO) arrangement to be delivered to the Royal Navy (RN) and Integrated onto a Naval Warship, to provide the RN with a Flexible Tactical Uncrewed Air System (FTUAS) Urgent Capability Requirement (UCR) for RN forward presence shipping to counter Crewed and Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USVs) in an operational theatre. The requirement will also require the Contractor to provide a FTUAS system at a UK Royal Navy Air Station, technical information, through life support, as well as the provision of training for operators and maintainers.

The requirement is for a capability to FIND, FIX, TRACK and ASSESS Fast Inshore Attack Craft, Crewed and Uncrewed, operating alone, in large numbers.

It is anticipated that the solution will permanently embark on a Naval Warship to provide a persistent, intimate, integrated and assured capability. The ability to operate at sufficient range from its parent ship to facilitate timely decision making is anticipated as is the need for a Maritime Surface Surveillance Radar to satisfactorily deliver “FIND”.

It is anticipated that the equipment will be in service for a period of 24 months from the date of the delivery of the initial operating capability (IOC), with options including a Contract extension up to an additional 24 months, subject to Ministry of Defence approval. It is anticipated that a maximum of 4 (four) suppliers (who achieved the best overall score) will be invited to submit formal tenders, based on the evaluation criteria contained within the PQQ documents. However, the Authority will have the discretion to vary the total number of potential providers that will or will not be taken through to the ITN phase. The maximum number of tenderers who will be invited to participate in the negotiation phase of the procurement process will be 3 (three) depending on the results of the initial tender evaluation. However, the Authority will have the discretion to vary the total number of tenderers who we will initiate negotiations with.”

The Ministry of Defence also specify that they are looking for a mature system, possibly with some civil approvals and that needs little adaptation or modification to meet the requirement and be deployable in the operational theatre at sea.

The system is expected to enter service in 2023.

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Mark
Mark
1 month ago

2023 seems optimistic! Past performance would suggest 2053 might be more realistic…

TrevorH
TrevorH
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

That is a typical comment from far too many people on here who are not remotely interested in engaging with the subject.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  TrevorH

And as we are all being pointlessly sarcastic anyone who has a basic understanding of maths will know that 10 years doesn’t take us anywhere near to the 2053 date as expressed in the original post. Claiming 2031 and 2053 represent some form of mutual agreement therefore on the likely in service date of this project when 2023 and 2031 are actually considerably closer to agreement is somewhat imaginative to say the least. But back to a less surreal argument, clearly this is to be an adaptation of something already in existence so while a 2023 initial in service date… Read more »

david Taylor
david Taylor
1 month ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Quite agree Trevor

Alan McShane
Alan McShane
1 month ago

Only questions. Would a Martlet pod port and starboard on a river 2 work? Do they require more systems fitting? Does a ciws engage surface targets? Would these drones carry enough missiles to deal with a swarm?
Since we are purchasing 1000 Martlets Would this no be a cheap and effective way to deal with swarm threats especially on the Rivers.

Herodotus
Herodotus
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan McShane

Maybe putting some guns on the bloody thing might help!

Herodotus
Herodotus
1 month ago
Reply to  Herodotus

My fit would be the BAE 57mm up front, a 40mm Bofors amidships, port and starboard, and a phalanx with a firing arc of 180 degrees covering the stern!

Jason
Jason
1 month ago
Reply to  Herodotus

I think that may come under the heading of “a tall order”. Seriously though a BAE 40mm (with 3P) up front and a 30mm/Martlet system port and starboard amidships would be enough to give the batch 2 rivers a real boost. Unfortunately even that is still probably “a tall order” so I’m not gonna hold my breath.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason

Why though? Of all the things the RN should be spending money on, upgrading Rivers is pretty much the bottom of the pile. We need more missiles for the Inspirations, a Next Gen ASM for the City’s and Darings. More F-35B’s for the QE’s. More weapons systems intigrated on the F-35’s. FSS, preferably three of them not two. Type 32 with autonomous MCMV capabilities, to replace our current MCMV fleet that is being retired. More P8’s. Future Commando Force LSG/LSS More Helicopters More Missile Stocks Drones/Autonomous systems Why instead of any of those, spend money procuring weapons systems for a… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dern
Jason
Jason
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

You’re right, I agree. Much more practical things to spend the money on. It’s just a hypothetical.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan McShane

Martlet mount on the DS30 mount as previously demonstrated is the best idea. Training and aiming all on one mount. Yes CIWS can engage surface targets using Block 1 and 1B enhancements The rotary wing UAV’s appear not to be armed You can guarantee that 4 of the 4 bidders through to the assessment phase will be Schiebel (which can carry a pair of LMM incidentally), Leonardo Hero, Saab Skeldar and Airbus VSR700. The MQ4 is far too large and expensive. There is some merit for the ‘drone’ to be armed, but just as effective as adding Martlet would be… Read more »

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

That project seems to have been forgotten about. Unclear if they tested the marlet on the gun and discovered it didn’t work or was too expensive or still in pipeline.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

My gut feeling is that having brought the Martlet to fruition on Wildcat with the whole set up tested and in service introduction imminent that they simply see this as the priority and first defence against swarms thus allowing them to save money on a shipboard fit while making it a reasonably quick fit as and when deemed required or budget allows (probably never then). That said the Wildcat sure carries a hatful of them.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
29 days ago
Reply to  Steve

The blow back from the motor was horrendous . It would have toasted large areas of equipment on the upper deck of a T23.

TrevorH
TrevorH
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan McShane

What is a swarm? How big would one the components be. How would such an item cause any damage, how would it target it’s enemy, how would it evade? What is its range, how would it be controlled.

expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Quite. Defending against a swarm of small but numerous explosive quad copters (Think typical hobby sized drones) is a different scenario to swarms of Irans fast missile boats.

Pete
Pete
1 month ago

Three stage procurement process for an urgent requirement which could readily be cut to a two stage process without compromise to integrity. Invite concurrent separate submissions. 1 x Technical in parallel to comnercial submission with commercial submissions only opened for those meeting minimum requirements. Negs can then follow.

Best private industry fast track process is one submission stage, two parts …tech and commercial, followed by no negotiating… clarifications yes…but no negotiating. Give us your best offer first time round and don’t leave any fat in price to make us feel good when negotiating.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

Good news. Drones carrying surveillance radar could be hosted on River 2 CSG pickets. They might effectively complete gaps and extend the Crowsnest Merlins coverage. Now we see the thinking behind the large deck, range and 24knot speed of the R2.

John N
John N
1 month ago

The RAN is running a maritime UAS competition too.

https://adbr.com.au/breaking-sea-129-phase-5-itr-contenders-announced/

There are currently two types of MUAS in RAN service, ScanEagle and Schiebel S-100.

Be interesting to see if there will be similarities between the RN and RAN requirements.

Cheers,

farouk
farouk
1 month ago

The picture of the S-100 UAV above is interesting as I remember this picture from a while ago of a S-100 fitted with Martlet by Thales

message-editor_1563325545170-s-100.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by farouk
Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Yes I remember that one as well – theoretically a frigate could carry several of these and launch, in effect, it’s own mini “swarm” which could engage small craft whilst still 10s of miles from the ship. I think I read somewhere the S-100 has an operational range of over 100 miles (From the ship) and a 6-hr endurance. Good platforms.

Pacman27
Pacman27
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Its also a proven platform and is a good price if memory serves me around £2m inc the control container.

Every RN ship should have at least 2 Scheibel 100’s imo

Nic
Nic
1 month ago
Reply to  Pacman27

I agree that all Royal Navy ships should have some form of heli UAV as additional defence and obs

Max Jones
Max Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

I feel when they can only carry 2 missiles it doesn’t serve as much of a practical function as a simple Wildcat with 20, even if the targets are dispersed. Fine on a patrol vessel when combat is not a main role but it just doesn’t seem very efficient.

DP
DP
1 month ago
Reply to  farouk

Yes, I like the look of the Schiebel. With it’s Marlet capability, it offers something more than just eyes in the sky. This offensive capability should be written into the spec. One wonders why the MoD didn’t specify a UAV system for the R2s from the outset, UAVs need not just enhance combat capability somewhere like the Persian Gulf but also enhance anti-drug smuggling in the Carribean, foreign vessel tracking in the North Sea and fishery protection in the Irish Sea. Agree with the sentiment of others on here though, just adding a UAV to the R2 based in Bahrain… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
29 days ago
Reply to  DP

Currently the MCMV force in the Gulf have…1 x 30mm manually aimed , 2 x 50 Cal and Mini Guns.

They have been ok with the above for the decades that they have been doing maritime Security Patrols.

James
James
1 month ago

Interesting. Countries like Turkey have developed naval submarines hunting drones that link up with autonomous speedboats
with 500km range armed with anti ship missiles, extending their anti ship missiles range from 300km to 800km. They can both disembark from a frigate. They have developed logistical drones capable of transferring supplies too.

I think this is an area we need to invest more in to make up for the small fleet size. A frigate can intimidate and be beyond the range of anti ship missiles of enemies with its autonomous speed boats armed with anti ship missiles and even detect submarines.

john melling
john melling
1 month ago

The Leonardo AWHERO RUAS must surely be on the list as it was involved in the European OCEAN 2020 exercise in the Med in 2019
And has the maritime surveillance capability

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

The age of the drone. Whatever gun systems we look at nothing is going to have the range or versatility of a UAV with a Martlet(?) pack.

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago

The surface search radar requirement makes the smaller types of rotary UAS unlikely.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 month ago

Only 10 years overdue, when they first trialled the Schiebel S100. UAS has moved on since then, even the S100 has evolved using a more powerful engine following criticism from the RAN, due to performance issues when operating in hot and humid climates. The issue these smaller types of UAS have is their MTOW of 200kg, which gives them a limited payload capability. For instance, the S100 can fit the same radar as used on Watckeeper, the Thales I-Master, but then it can’t fit a electro optic turret. The S100 has been used where a smaller EO turret was fitted… Read more »

DRS
DRS
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

S100 (or eventually 2) per river, add a martlet and the sideways radar and EO turret and be good with the second one available with a a martlet if need by or exploring a different direction. you have radar, EO, hyper spectral etc. Also need 3/4 of those for the carriers. The firescout is so big you might as well get a proper helicopter with a retractable hangar as per navy lookout options.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

For the OPVs, I think the S100/Hero would be ideal. The issue is still you can either have a decent EO turret fitted or a decent radar. The smaller EO turret is nowhere as good and the sideways looking radar had a pretty crap range, especially compared to the I-Master. I appreciate that the Firescout is big, as its based on a manned light helicopter. Until the VRS700 is ready there is nothing else on the VTOL market currently, that can be used immediately that has a usable MTOW to carry and operate two decent sensors. As I mentioned elsewhere,… Read more »

Nic
Nic
1 month ago

Surely the best option is to buy of the shelf a tried and tested UAV ,rather than developing one from new

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago

It looks like they tendered this contract before in early 2020 but at that time it was for a “Military Regulated Civil Owned (MRCO) service” where “the contractor will need to deploy its personnel in operational situations to provide the MRCO service.” It also anticipated a 36 month requirement from IOC with extensions possible, per https://bidstats.uk/tenders/2020/W09/721879175 It now seems its a “Military Owned Military Operated (MOMO) arrangement”. The contract now specifies a 24 month requirement with extensions possible. So apart from the RN/RFA/FAA having to now operate the system, and despite it now stating “military owned” it seems the contract… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago

Here’s a link to the most recent contract for those interested
https://www.find-tender.service.gov.uk/Notice/011670-2021

donald_of_tokyo
donald_of_tokyo
1 month ago

“II.1.5) Estimated total value
Value excluding VAT: £52,000,000″

It is for 2 years lease in MOMO configuration. Not sure how it can be compared to other programs.

“The ability to supply a Rotary Wing Air Vehicle able to operate embarked within the constraints posed by a Naval Warship”

Does this mean it is only for a single airframe?

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago

The tender raises a few questions and isn’t providing answers. The short description says “The requirement is for the provision of a NUMBER of Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS)” and “The requirement will also require the Contractor to provide a FTUAS system at a UK Royal Navy Air Station”, so I assume this contract covers a number of systems.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

Does the Royal navy document uap incursions like the nimitz carrier group and commander fravors accounts of beyond hypersonic drone encounters and more recently the uss omagha. Or have thay buried there heads in the sand

Max Jones
Max Jones
1 month ago

Would be nice to see these deployed on the Batch 2 OPVs with telescopic hangars, if feasible. It would give them a little bit of extra firepower just in case and better surveillance capabilities for patrol.