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Combining the strengths of manned and unmanned platforms, manned-unmanned teaming (MUMT) has the potential to play a transformative role by increasing the situational awareness, tempo, lethality, survivability and combat mass of aviation forces, significantly reducing crew workload allowing pilots to focus on the mission at hand.

Leonardo successfully demonstrated unique integrated capabilities between a manned aircraft and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This took place in the UK in September, during manned-unmanned teaming trials between a Leonardo AW159 Wildcat helicopter and a semi-autonomous UAV from Callen-Lenz Associates.

In this instance, MUMT is when a helicopter crew controls a UAV from the helicopter like it was an onboard sensor being controlled from the cockpit. By integrating control of the UAV into the Wildcat Mission System, Leonardo was able to minimize the pilots’ workload allowing them to focus more on the mission while simultaneously controlling the UAV – this is the first time such an integrated capability has been demonstrated in the UK on a military aircraft. The solution allows the Wildcat crew to control both the flight path and payload of the UAV (a capability known as Level of Interoperability (LOI) 4) using an efficient and effective task-based Human Machine Interface (HMI), rather than the more operator intensive approaches employed on other systems.

Teaming of manned aircraft with unmanned air systems enhances air support capability in both land and maritime environments. It also enables extended and complex operations to be conducted with a mix of platforms and systems, according to uasweekly.com.

The demonstration was part of the British Army’s MUMT themed Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) 19 and was planned and executed by Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).