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Britain pushed ahead with plans for its first fighter drone. A British initiative to develop an unmanned air vehicle known as a “loyal wingman” has received a boost with the announcement by the Ministry of Defence that a consortium is to build a full-scale test vehicle.
Work maturing the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft, or LANCA, will run for three years until the conclusion of the flight trials.
If the project is successful the Mosquito loyal wingman platform could eventually become the first unmanned platform in British service able to target and shoot down enemy aircraft.
The Northern Ireland-based arm of Spirit and partners, including Northrop Grumman UK, have been awarded a £30 million (U.S. $41 million) deal to lead a partnership for building the demonstrator vehicle.
Following the completion of the demonstration phase, the Royal Air Force will analyze the data and use it to inform capability decisions.
The unmanned vehicle is part of the air force’s push to produce a low-cost machine in a fraction of the time of normal combat jets.
Spirit acquired the Belfast-based aerostructures operations of Canadian commercial and business jet builder Bombardier last year.
Designing and building the airframe is a small but significant win for the company, which centers on building structures for the Airbus A220 airliner and other civil sector work. Northrop Grumman UK will be providing model-based systems engineering and agile engineering expertise.
The company said it will also integrate its advanced mission management (AMM) and airborne communication node technologies to enable seamless human-machine collaboration and cooperative mission management across distributed manned and unmanned assets, according to defensenews.com.