Ministry of Defence lists four categories of priorities as it revises unmanned systems development strategy
The UK Ministry of Defence will publish a revised version of its unmanned air vehicle roadmap by late September, says Royal Air Force Air Vice Marshal Chris Moran, assistant chief of the air staff and the MoD’s senior official for UAV operations and strategy. To outline UK objectives for UAV development and operation out to 2020, the roadmap identifies priorities in four categories, says Moran: future programmes; current research and development; operational experience; and key regulatory issues.
Identifying the UK’s ParcAberporth UAV development and test facility and the proposed Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment (ASTRAEA) programme as important supporting initiatives, Moran told RUSI’s Unmanned Vehicle Systems Conference in London that the roadmap should serve as “a key tool for us to achieve a broader UAV community of excellence”.
The document also outlines a plan that calls for the deployment of medium- and high-altitude long-endurance UAVs to participate in air shows and military exercises in the UK. Moran says such measures are intended to “stress” national airspace and will enable a gradual reduction in levels of segregation via the demonstration of sense-and-avoid technologies.
While advanced UAVs will provide “a clear component” of the UK’s future intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities through long-term initiatives such as Project Dabinett, the MoD’s priority is to conclude its Watchkeeper system deal with Thales UK. A contract signature is expected soon, with the WK450 UAV-based system to enter service this decade. The UK also intends to extend its investigation of surveillance and strike UAVs, with the RAF expected to conduct a follow-on trial of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ Predator B “hunter-killer” vehicle.
Source: Flight International