Future Maritime Aviation Force – Unmanned Application

Future Maritime Aviation Force – Unmanned Application

An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle flies over the crowd during the Aviation Nation Air Show at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 10. This year's show commemorated 60 years of air power during the Air Force's year-long 60th anniversary celebration. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)

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The UK Royal Navy is moving forward with plans to procure a low-cost fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as an initial increment of its Future Maritime Aviation Force (FMAF) program.

Dubbed Project Vampire, the acquisition aims to assess unmanned or autonomous air systems for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electromagnetic operations, and threat simulation. 

Concept development work for FMAF program, managed by the Develop Directorate within Navy Command, has identified a number of roles and missions where unmanned aviation could augment or potentially replace manned aircraft, notably airborne early warning (AEW), persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), threat simulation and training, etc.

Project Vampire aims to address a number of capability problem sets utilizing a low-cost, fixed-wing UAV as a means for the development of operational concepts, payload types, and associated communication and digital architecture.

According to Navy Command, Phase 1 of Project Vampire is intended to last up to four years. Key deliverables include up to four air vehicles based on a mature design, a single launcher, a single ground station with aerials, operator and maintainer training, and technical, management and safety data to support military registration and airworthiness, according to janes.com.