£129 million to deliver state-of-the-art mini drones for UK forces | Daily News Byte

£129 million to deliver state-of-the-art mini drones for UK forces

 | Daily News Byte

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  • Lockheed Martin UK has been awarded a contract to deliver more than 250 mini drones
  • Drones will provide high-resolution imaging capabilities to detect and identify potential targets
  • Jobs support at Lockheed Martin UK and across the UK supply chain

It is to replace existing Mini Uncrewed Aerial Systems (MUAS) such as the Desert Hawk 3, 159 rotary-wing Indago 4 devices and 105 fixed-wing Stalker VXE30 drones, which are capable of both locating and identifying targets away from the operator. Operational by the end of 2024.

Weighing a little over 20 kilograms and with a wingspan of 4.88 meters, the Portable Stalker is an operationally proven, vertically-launched, near-silent drone that provides over eight hours of imaging capability and is capable of covering approximately 60 miles.

Weighing just 2.27 kilograms, the packable drone, Indago 4, can be folded and carried in a soldier’s backpack and deployed in just two minutes with a range of about eight miles. Its high-resolution camera systems provide incredible zoom capability to accurately identify people, objects, vehicles and weapons, day or night.

Both drone platforms will provide advanced imaging and surveillance and provide greater capability for the armed forces, detecting targets at multiple ranges in different environments.

Defense Procurement Minister, Alex Chalk Casey said:

As the global threat landscape changes, it is critical that we remain at the forefront of innovation, delivering advanced capabilities to our deployed forces.

This is another fantastic example of British industry supporting UK defense technology.

With proven effectiveness in this technology, Lockheed Martin UK will be the systems integrator for the duration of the 10-year contract, working with numerous small and medium enterprises as well as major UAV manufacturers to iteratively develop the capability over a lifetime. This will ensure that operational advantage is maintained by the UK Armed Forces by upgrading drones, keeping pace with technological changes and emerging threats when required.

The US Already in use by the military, drones are designed to provide small military formations with immediate ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capability – an increasingly important component of modern warspaces.

Andy Start, DE&S CEO, said:

These remotely piloted systems will enhance our troops’ ability to gather critical intelligence and acquire essential imagery in strategic environments.

As well as equipping the UK Armed Forces for operations now and into the future, this flagship program supports highly skilled jobs for the next decade.

More than a dozen full-time UK jobs will be sustained at Lockheed Martin during the contract period, mostly based in Havant and Gloucester, including engineering, commercial, project management and support roles. Further supply chain roles across the UK are expected to be supported throughout the contract.

Lockheed Martin UK will become the carrier for a collection of additional UK and international companies known as “Tequila Enterprises”. This ensures that TIQUILA is able to access the best technologies and ideas, as well as rapidly integrate them with their Stalker and Indago platforms.

Brigadier Pete Drew, the Army’s senior responsible owner for the TIQUILA program, said:

TIQUILA will bring the next generation of remotely piloted air systems into service in the Army. It will provide the means for the ability to stay at the leading edge of innovation and allow it to adapt to new threats.

It marks an important milestone for the Land ISTAR program, with TIQUILA being the first sensor to be digitally integrated into the broader ISTAR ecosystem. It will speed up the decision-making process and make us more lethal, responsive and resilient as a force, underscoring the Army’s commitment to delivering the future Soldiers identified in the Integrated Review.

Air Commodore Steve Bentley, UKStratCom’s Senior Responsible Owner for TIQUILA, said:

Using a systems integrator approach will ensure that UK Defense is able to make the most of the innovative development and rapid capability integration cycle of Project TIQUILA, to deliver the latest and greatest capabilities into the hands of our users.

Project TIQUILA will leverage competitive advantage from the full spectrum of SMEs and prime contractors, to ensure the UK is equipped with the best of breed and able to make the most of the rapid pace of capacity evolution.

Delivered at the Integrated Review, the mini drone capability will underline the British Army’s commitment to the Future Soldier, building an armed force capable of meeting emerging threats and future challenges on the battlefield.

Background

  • TIQUILA Enterprise is a collection of suppliers, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), motivated by a business model that benefits both innovators and system integrators.
  • The TIQUILA name combines previous military drone program names.

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