UK Government axes Mosquito teaming UAV development program


A £30 million project to develop a teaming UAV that would have flown alongside the F-35 and Typhoon has been shelved after a review by the RAF.

Project Mosquito was developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) armed with missiles, surveillance and electronic warfare technology for combat missions. Mosquito would have been the UK’s Loyal Wingman aircraft, a new type of aircraft also known as MUM-T (manned unmanned-teaming).

Mosquito was originally announced in January 2021 and tasked Spirit AeroSystems (formerly Bombardier Belfast), Callen-Lenz, and Northrop Grumman UK with developing a demonstrator within three years. The project was part of the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) research program launched in 2015.

However, after a review of the program by the Royal Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), Mosquito will not proceed beyond the design phase.

According to the review a cheaper solution is possible and will be pursued: “Analysis concluded that more beneficial capability and cost-effectiveness appears achievable through exploration of smaller, less costly, but still highly capable additive capabilities,” said a UK Ministry of Defence press release.

Air Commodore Jez Holmes, head of the rapid capabilities office said, “Through Project Mosquito and other experimentation activities the RAF has made substantial progress and gained significant value in understanding and harnessing a range of future uncrewed capabilities.

“This decision maximises the learning accrued to date and enables a change of direction for the LANCA program. The Rapid Capabilities Office will now quickly launch activities to aggressively pursue the RAF’s unchanged firm commitment to integrate advanced uncrewed capabilities into the near-term force mix with more immediate beneficial value.”

The RCO added that cancelling the specific manufacturing technology demonstrator will not impact on its aim to develop other Loyal Wingman concepts under investigation within the Future Combat Air System Enterprise for after 2035.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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