Two Companies Demonstrate Capabilities Under Development Contracts
Malloy Aeronautics and W Autonomous Systems have completed scalability and usability tests of heavy-lift unmanned aircraft in the second stage of a programme run by UK MoD’s science and technology arm and the Royal Navy.
The Heavy Lift Challenge, run by Defence Equipment and Support‘s (DE&S) Future Capability Group in collaboration with the Royal Navy’s 700X Naval Air Squadron and Office for the Chief Technology Officer, saw Malloy’s T-600 quadcopter and W Autonomous’ Ultra fixed-wing aircraft demonstrate their potential for delivering heavy cargo at range. The project is intended to “increase the number of UAS available on the market, at a rapid pace,” according to a report published in April on DE&S’s website, which adds that the “competitive framework will also quicken the overall procurement process, delivering the latest uncrewed technology to the frontline, faster, cheaper and better in an exponential world“.
“This is an important milestone for the Heavy Lift Challenge,” said James Gavin, head of the Future Capability Group. “We have tested how scalable and usable the autonomous technology is, with promising results. We have demonstrated how our collaboration with the Royal Navy and industry partners can expedite the procurement process – enabling us to deliver cutting-edge technology at pace. Ultimately, this work will help the UK Armed Forces retain and grow its operational advantage and also deliver cost efficiencies”.
“HLC is surpassing all our expectations,” said Royal Marines Brigadier Dan Cheesman, CBE, the RN’s CTO. “Genuinely game-changing collaboration between the Royal Navy, DE&S FCG and industry has, so far, produced quite spectacular results – all inside the same commercial framework we are able to iterate as one team. We are not there quite yet, but in perhaps as little as two months’ time, we will have the final ‘show don’t tell’ evidence we need to commence [bringing the capability to the front line] at unprecedented pace. And who doesn’t want a vertical lift, militarised quadcopter with a 250kg+ payload? And who wouldn’t want a 100kg payload delivered 1000km, able to launch and recover from a QEC-Class Carrier or rough strip, and drop pinpoint resupply missions whilst swooping down low and slow as and when you want them from its 3 pairs of bomb-bay doors? For the Royal Navy, HLC is big news.”