QinetiQ has been awarded a £6 million Vampire Phase 1 contract to support the Royal Navy’s future high performance Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operations.
Under the four-year contract, QinetiQ will provide its experimentation expertise and its Banshee Jet80+ targets to assist in the training of the Royal Navy’s Aircraft Carriers for real-world scenarios.
Following the successful demonstration of QinetiQ Target Systems’ Banshee Jet80+ from the deck of the Royal Navy’s HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier in late 2021, the Vampire Phase 1 contract will enable the Royal Navy to Test and Evaluate the capability of small fixed wing, jet powered unmanned systems to support Carrier Aviation.
In time, this could lead to the further development and acquisition of such systems, as the Royal Navy develops its Future Maritime Aviation Force(2), a mix of manned and manned systems, which will enable the delivery of highly effective maritime air power towards the middle of this century and beyond.
The Banshees provide the opportunity to run drills by emulating cruise missiles and enemy fast jets which may be faced on mission. The Banshee can operate at 25,000ft, or just above the sea surface, and fly at high speeds of up to 400 knots, delivering a realistic adversary to train against. The use of the drones as enemy aircraft is essential in helping the carriers improve their defense capabilities as the size of the Banshee is representative of an incoming missile on radar systems.
The Royal Navy will also use this contract to understand and demonstrate the wider Concepts of Operations of small attritable UAS to deliver capabilities in areas such as intelligence gathering, surveillance, Stand in Jamming and working as decoys, whether as a standalone capability or delivered though human machine teaming.
“The partnership with QinetiQ will be invaluable in our ability to support our training needs to better prepare for realistic threats,” said Colonel Phil Kelly, Head Carrier Strike & Maritime Aviation, Royal Navy. “As we see these threats and the technology supporting them evolve globally, we must ensure our training is as close to the real-life situation as possible and we’re grateful that QinetiQ can support us in achieving this.”
“The Vampire Phase 1 contract demonstrates QinetiQ’s capability to deliver complex training and evaluation exercises for the Royal Navy,” said Steve Fitz-Gerald, Group Managing Director Maritime & Land, QinetiQ. “The use of crewless technology is paramount to the Royal Navy’s future programs and this UK capability, already used around the world, will deliver an efficient, value for money method of training, whether at home or during deployment overseas.”