New Disposable ‘Jackdaw’ Combat UAS

New Disposable ‘Jackdaw’ Combat UAS

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UK-based company QinetiQ unveiled its concept for a new disposable, cheap and effective unmanned aerial system (UAS) called the “Jackdaw,” which is reportedly designed for “swarming and collaborative autonomous operations including crewed-uncrewed teaming.” QinetiQ explains that the drone will fulfill multiple missions including surveillance, electronic warfare, airborne decoy, and threat representation.

According to Interesting Engineering, Jackdaw will help the UK military minimize operational risks and boost combat power by quickly deploying numerous UAS in situations that currently rely on a limited number of expensive, manned aerial platforms.

Mick Andrae from Robotics and Autonomous Systems at QinetiQ explains: “The ‘Jackdaw’ concept leverages QinetiQ’s expertise in very low-cost high-performance aerial targets… and is enhanced with autonomous mission management and human-machine teaming capabilities.”

Interestingly, “Jackdaw” is described as a low-cost, “disposable” drone that allows commanders to sacrifice assets if necessary. Developed in collaboration with the likes of BAE Systems and Inzpire, drones like “Jackdaw” should operate seamlessly and coherently, making deployment more agile and easier to manage from a central operations center.

According to Interesting Engineering, QinetiQ is currently developing the Jackdaw concept for four main use cases:

  • ISR – reconnaissance and intelligence gathering to support Commanders’ situational awareness
  • Electronic Warfare – utilization of the electromagnetic spectrum to counter adversaries
  • Active and passive decoy – representing higher value or crewed systems to protect lives and vital assets
  • Complex threat representation – providing operators with swarming threats and sophisticated threat payloads to ensure they are trained and operationally ready for the highly complex threat environment of the near future

Furthermore, the “Jackdaw” platform will be able to support 30 kg of internal payload, can achieve over three hours of flight, reach speeds of 740 kph and altitudes of 9,144 meters. The platform has been designed, manufactured, and tested in the UK QinetiQ claims it can be modified for other nations’ armed forces.

The company claims that the Jackdaw disposable UAS capability will be available from the mid-2020s.