The Royal Air Force has announced on Monday that it is one step closer to receive uncrewed fighter jets.
On 25 January, Royal Air Force wrote on Twitter that U.S. firm Spirit AeroSystems was awarded a contract from the British Ministry of Defense for uncrewed fighter aircraft.
“UK’s first fleet of uncrewed fighter aircraft a step closer with £30 million contract awarded to Spirit AeroSystems to design and manufacture a prototype capable of providing a battle-winning advantage to the RAF [Royal Air Force],” the message added.
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Nicknamed the ‘Loyal Wingman’, the aircraft will be designed to fly alongside fighter jets, armed with surveillance and electronic warfare technology to provide a battle-winning advantage over hostile forces, multiple news outlets reported.
The Loyal Wingman will be the British’s first uncrewed platform able to target and shoot down enemy aircraft and survive against surface-to-air missiles, the MoD said.
UK’s first fleet of uncrewed fighter aircraft a step closer with £30 million contract awarded to @SpiritAero to design and manufacture a prototype capable of providing a battle-winning advantage to the RAF #NextGenRAF #BuildBackBetter🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/9r5ZaUcINR
— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForce) January 25, 2021
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “This is fantastic news and underlines the distinct strengths in Northern Ireland’s economy, through its advanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities.
“This ground-breaking 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.”
Defense Minister Jeremy Quin said: “This is a great win for the Northern Ireland defence industry and will showcase some of the most pioneering engineering work currently being undertaken in the UK.
“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.”
The director of Future Combat Air at the MoD, Richard Berthon, said: “Project Mosquito is a vital element of our approach to Future Combat Air, rapidly bringing to life design, build and test skills for next generation combat air capabilities.
“Autonomous ‘loyal wingman’ aircraft create the opportunity to expand, diversify and rapidly upgrade Combat Air Forces in a cost-effective way, now and in the future.”