The British government has announced a three-year £30 million deal with Spirit AeroSystems in Belfast to design and manufacture a prototype for the country’s first uncrewed fighter aircraft.

The aerostructures manufacturer has been selected to lead Team MOSQUITO in the next stage of the project, with the contract set to support more than 100 jobs in Belfast. The team will draw upon groundbreaking engineering techniques to continue the development of the RAF’s Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept.

It is intended that the uncrewed combat aircraft will fly at high speed alongside fighter jets, armed with missiles, surveillance and electronic warfare technology.

The aircraft is set to be the UK’s first uncrewed platform capable of targeting and shooting down enemy aircraft and surviving in the face of enemy missiles.

A full-scale vehicle flight-test programme is expected before the end of 2023.

“A great win for the Northern Ireland defence industry”

Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, described the contract as “fantastic news [that] underlines the distinct strengths in Northern Ireland’s economy, through its advanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities.

“This groundbreaking project will involve significant investment which will not only support local employment, but also reinforce Northern Ireland’s contribution to the security of our nation.”

Meanwhile, Defence Minister, Jeremy Quin hailed the deal as “a great win for the Northern Ireland defence industry” that would “showcase some of the great pioneering engineering work currently being undertaken in the UK.”

He added: “The £30 million project will accelerate the development of the UK’s future air power by delivering cutting-edge uncrewed aircraft, maintaining our position as a world leader in emerging technologies.”

A game-changing approach for national security

Also including Northrop Grumman UK, Team MOSQUITO is expected to mature the designs and manufacture a technology demonstrator to produce evidence for a follow-on LANCA programme.

It is thought that if Project Mosquito is successful, the end of the decade could see this revolutionary capability deployed alongside the Typhoon and F-35 Lightning jets.

The project aims to deliver major reductions in costs and development timelines, through the use of the most recent software development techniques and civilian aerospace engineering and manufacturing expertise. This will allow for innovations to more quickly reach the front line.

A key priority of the project is ensuring it will be an easy and affordable process to update the final aircraft design with the latest technology, to help keep the UK ahead of its adversaries.

When candidates and clients alike seek the services of the most capable aviation recruiting firm, including in relation to the latest opportunities in defence aerospace engineering, they can have the utmost faith in TARCG. Simply enquire to our industry experts today for further information.

Published inBlog
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