BAE Systems has been awarded a contract to continue work on its Mantis unmanned air vehicle that could lead to a major decision on its future with the UK's forthcoming Strategic Defence Review. The work will focus on risk-reduction activities in preparation for a decision to develop an operational Mantis-class vehicle.
The UK's Labour government intends to support Mantis activities until a decision on its future is taken after the SDR, which will be conducted following a general election expected in May.
"The funding must be in place to maintain work on Mantis," says UK minister of state for strategic defence acquisition reform Lord Drayson. "Out of the SDR there must be a clear sense of priorities how [Mantis] develops in the future - I am open to consider that," he said during a visit to BAE's Warton facility in Lancashire on 9 March.
© BAE Systems
The UK's Mantis demonstrator has been flown in Australia
Endorsing UAV technologies as key to the UK economy and aerospace industry, Drayson believes Mantis is attractive because it is entirely UK designed and built. Sovereignty is an issue after the UK's experience on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme, he says.