The UK is looking for a “long reach, inter-theatre lift UAV, capable of carrying a minimum 50kg payload over a range of at least 300 nautical miles”.

According to an information notice:

“A potential capability gap has been identified within Defence for a long-range Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV). Consequently the Authority is seeking to engage with industry to establish what technologies are currently available in the market to potentially fulfil this requirement.

The purpose of this RFI is to gather information about current market offerings for the provision of long reach, inter-theatre lift UAV, capable of carrying a minimum 50kg payload over a range of at least 300 nautical miles with as a minimum, a waypoint-based level of Autonomy.

The aircraft must be able to fly First Person View [FPV] with a minimum 50km LOS comms & AES 256 encryption and with an assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) data source. The platform would also require the ability deliver a payload whilst in flight mode.”

Additionally, companies interested in potentially bidding for this requirement, have been asked to provide responses to the following questions:

1. What is the aircraft’s maximum payload weight?
2. What is the aircraft’s maximum range (in distance) without refuelling/recharging?
3. What type of autonomy is incorporated into your system? (E.g., Waypoint based/Task based).
4. Is the aircraft able to fly in GPS denied environments? (E.g., ability to fly FPV / using SLAM or similar capability via waypoints).
5. What type of command-and-control functionality does the system operate? (E.g., 50km LOS comms & AES 256 encryption / 100km LOS, plus SATCOM).
6. What is the in-flight payload delivery mechanism? (E.g., basic flight drop / ability to safely release and delivery a payload such as via parachute or similar)
7. What is the Payload Delivery Accuracy from altitude of c120m? [E.g., Within circle of 50m diameter / Within circle of 25m diameter
8. Does the aircraft have an assured PNT data source?
9. What type of fuel/energy does you aircraft use?
10. Does the system have collision avoidance capabilities? If so, what are they? (E.g., Organic (to platform) Sense to Avoid capability / integration capability into recognised air picture)

This is linked to the wider ‘UAS Heavy Lift Challenge’, the description of which from a notice states:

“In order to stimulate the 100kg lift Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) market, the Future Capability Group (FCG) and the Royal Navy Office of Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) delivered a programme called the Heavy Lift Challenge (HLC) in 2021/22 at Predannack Airfield, Cornwall. Two companies were funded to accelerate their platform capabilities towards a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of 200kg.

This investment allowed The Authority to identify 2 potential operational use cases; these being:

– Intra-Theatre Lift (ship to ship replenishment and littoral ship-to-shore resupply)

– Inter-Theatre Lift (shore to ship & return)

The Authority is now looking launch HLC Ph2 in order to broaden its investment in these 2 potential operational use cases that will intend to be as follows (but not limited to and not yet fully defined as):-

1. Intra-Theatre Lift:- entry 100kg; MVP 200kg; Stretch 300kg payload lift over entry 5nM; MVP 10nM; Stretch 50nM (nautical miles)

2. Inter-Theatre Lift:- entry 50kg; MVP 75kg; Stretch 125kg payload lift over entry 150nM; MVP 300nM; Stretch 550nM (nautical miles)”

The solution is expected to fly in August this year.

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
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Mark Franks
Mark Franks
1 month ago

So the same capabilities that the Royal Mail are trialling.

eclipse
eclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Franks

Yes but it’ll have to carry loads thrice the weight, no wings for stealth and so it obviously won’t work.

Mark franks
Mark franks
1 month ago
Reply to  eclipse

It will be nothing fancy, it will be nothing more than a shoebox with some balsawood for wings and the MOD will dress it up as the most advanced delivery system ever built and will probably cost billions.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark franks

I hope it is cheap as the rate prices are going up the MOD will be in trouble just covering projects that are running. I can’t see treasury giving departments a 10% budget rise just to keep up.
We see the stink with trains just now. I mean imagine wanting your wage to keep up with inflation. How outrageous. Everyone should effectively take a pay cut and be happy with it. It’s not like most folks haven’t had under inflation rises for years now. Oh wait that is what happens.🙈

Dprendo
Dprendo
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

of course, if everyone has a wage increase to mathc inflation, inflation just goes up. Economics is just unfair and thats that

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Franks

👍👍 And probably Amazon Mark would it not be cheaper too aquire theirs

Mark Franks
Mark Franks
1 month ago

Like this.

images (2).jpeg
FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
1 month ago

Instead of developing our own system they will buy whatever then Americans have.

Marked
Marked
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN

Good. We couldn’t develop a pencil without it going wrong, costing billions extra then getting cancelled.

Mark franks
Mark franks
1 month ago
Reply to  Marked

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Andrew Thorne
Andrew Thorne
1 month ago
Reply to  Marked

To be fair this is not because we don’t have talented engineers. It’s the managers and accountants that screw things up.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Marked

A bit like nasa spending lots of cash and effort developing a pen that could work in zero gravity of space. The soviets used a pencil😂😂👍🏻

eclipse
eclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Just a point to be made; using a pencil in space is a REALLY bad idea. Using a pencil can result in dust and minute pieces of graphite. Although on Earth it usually ends up on the page and is indiscernible, in space it can start floating around and if it enters a sensitive system the results can be catastrophic.

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Let’s kill this urban myth once and fore-all…

Both the Soviets and NASA used pencils but found the microscopic graphite dust and broken tips from the pencils could float into the electronics of a space-craft and cause short-circuits.

Fisher developed the Space Pen with their own funds under their own initiative. After a trial, NASA bought a stock of pens for use on Apollo onwards.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
1 month ago
Reply to  FOSTERSMAN
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

What is this supposed to be carrying with those payload weights?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hi Daniele, That was my first thought. But having read the last part of the article it occured that this might just be another part of the accelerator programe to get UK companies into the market place. Whatever the case it is good to see investment and support for UK tech but at some point we need to see something tangible being delivered to the frontline. I think the time this is taking and the cutting of Mosquito highlight just how far we need to go to catch up. If the MoD don’t stay the course they’ll just end up… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

It could carry my shopping back from tesco when not needed on deployments.
Hopefully they keep the costs super low. These types of drones will be vulnerable to being shot down if near enemy territory so need to be cheap to allow lots to be bought.
50kg could be a 155mm round, ammo box, ration packs etc etc. Basically anything normally taken by a man or vehicle. Fantastic times ahead. The future of warfare is changing fast

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Sarnis and a brew for the team?

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

Feck that. Send a Herforder hand bag!

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yes but you would need dozens of them to be a worthwhile capability. A drone carrying one rnd of 155mm or a couple of ammo boxes with 7.62mm or 5.56 or 36 grenades or a couple NLAW isnt really all that strategically important. Unless you have large numbers.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Just a thought here Mr Bell a Tanked round of 4.5 /125mm weights in at 84lb excluding the container its easier too just hump one on your shoulder as you suggest we would require so many of these Drones that would block out the sun when One Rotary with an underslung load could do the task in hand it would seem that the MOD is just playing keep up with the Jonese’s

Ken Martinson
Ken Martinson
28 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Using an M777 is a much better delivery mechanism for a “single 155 round”……

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago

FROM the USNI article that DanielMorgan linked above –
“The service [USN] has found that 90 percent of critical mission failures for systems underway can be repaired with a payload fewer than 20 pounds …”

Up to now that meant launching a helicopter for ship-to-ship transfers of such items.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

As I thought, thank you. I can understand the utility of things like this in a RN ship to ship scenario.

For land, carrying a single shell or attacks forward to FEBA as others above suggested, we’d need thousands of the things the way ammo is expended. I cannot see it being worth it for the effort and potentially cost, if usual MoD is anything to go by.

Ship, yes that I get.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Attacks?? FFS that should say “Ratpacks”!!

Ian M
Ian M
1 month ago

I’ve “attacked a ratpack”! Munchies at 4am.😁

Louis
Louis
1 month ago

I think the point is troops on the frontline or in remote areas could be resupplied relatively easily. I assume it will be a battalion or company asset rather than brigade or divisional asset.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis

Yes you’d think so.
I’m still highly sceptical of these myself.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago

Mail bags. Therefore the Royal mail drones could be just what is needed

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

I’d just employ more posties myself. They give a personal service.

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

Photos or it never happened!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

😆 I used to be a postie mate. Being a regular for several years on the same street, the elderly would rely on you and you’d look out for them, note if anything was out of place.
As for personal services, no comment!!

Peter Crisp
Peter Crisp
1 month ago

How about we just invent Trek style Transporters?

Surely it can’t be that hard?
On the show you just give the boffins a problem and they give you a time estimate for completion and you just berate them and give them a deadline that’s 1/3 of what they asked for.

Just get the MOD to do that.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

Energise

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I was asked to measure the ‘impulse drivers’ at the front of my new shop t’other day and had a serious WTF moment… they were talking about the ice cream fridges. [email protected]

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

Haha. Mosquito project swatted. Great title. Oh well maybe it wasn’t going to work out to be what was needed. Loyal wingman must be quite hard to get to work effectively. Hopefully it helps with the learning going into next projects

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

50kg. What sort of load is envisaged? One 155mm shell could be carried or a single Infantryman’s CFMO and rifle. Is this really worth the effort?

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

This seems to be a RN project.

As I posted in response to Daniele and from the USNI article that DanielMorgan linked above –
“The service [USN] has found that 90 percent of critical mission failures for systems underway can be repaired with a payload fewer than 20 pounds …”

Up to now that meant launching a helicopter for ship-to-ship transfers of such items.

Peter Crisp
Peter Crisp
1 month ago

Would this be computer parts?

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Crisp

Almost certainly, but also valves (for all the miles of pipes), engine components (e.g. control system components, sensors and the like fuel system bits, etc). Even big ships can be laid low by the smallest of components. Using these drones to transfer spares and replacement parts would be a boon for the navy. However, if they need a runway then it’ll carrier based for ship to ship or shore to ship, hence the 300 to 550 nmile range requirement with smaller payloads. I could see a QE class carrier being equipped with a small number of these to support CSG… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
1 month ago

Thanks for the clarification. Sounds very useful then.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yes, that was my thought but RN I get.

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
1 month ago

Anybody seen this article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-61940007 “Some voices – particularly in France, Germany and Italy – have asked if it might not be better for the war to end, even if it came at the cost of Ukraine having to cede territory. A recent cross-Europe opinion poll suggested some voters put solving the cost-of-living crisis ahead of punishing Russia.” Just when I thought these three countries couldn’t make me anymore sick with their lack of support for Ukraine. I am even more so sickened to hear that the lack of support isn’t limited to politicians. If these countries feel so strongly… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Christopher Allen
Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago

Its true. Germans and French are annoyed they are paying more for their gas and electricity. Why should they have to pay more for bread and beer? Surely the Ukranian right to freedom and self determination isnt as important as their first world problems. Does make you sick. The Germans in particular have been massively 2- faced. Promising hardware that is never delivered then obstructing countries like Spain that wanted to give Ukraine heavy armour. Spain were stopped by Germany from giving Ukraine 54 Leopard 2 A4s. Thats just disgusting behaviour. Both Germany and Macron’s idiotic French leadership want the… Read more »

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

I couldn’t agree more. The French have the precedent of vast experience in capitulation and surrender. Not to forget their mutiny and refusal to fight on the Western Front in 1917 – which forced the British Army to take over miles and miles of their trenches.

The appalling Macron has supplied Ukraine with a miniscule amount of hardware, in case it upsets his chum the war criminal Putin. Sholz has provided even less.

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

The first 155mm guns in theatre came from which country?

I agree Macron is a [email protected]

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Morning Team.If you are suffering from low blood pressure, read the comments section of the article on HMS Prince of Wales in today’s Mail Online.
Guaranteed to remedy your condition and at the same time provide some comic relief

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

I refuse!😀

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Alas,so I must suffer alone😎

EnglishElectricLightning
EnglishElectricLightning
1 month ago

On the other hand, they claim to have identified a capability gap – fingers crossed, they’ll be able to spot all the others!

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

LOL. There’s a special class of gap they can spot: ones that will cost less than £10m to fill. The bigger the gap, the harder it is to see.

EnglishElectricLightning
EnglishElectricLightning
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Well, that seems reasonable, Jon. After all, if you’re in Cheddar Gorge, it’s obvious. If you’re in Valles Marineris on Mars, you might not even notice!

EnglishElectricLightning
EnglishElectricLightning
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

ps – that was sarchasm