U.K. Trials First Crewed-Uncrewed Teaming Demonstrations with Autonomous Drone

The trial showcases the potential of integrating crewed and uncrewed platforms for enhanced combat capabilities
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 08:45 AM, April 25, 2024
  • 734
U.K. Trials First Crewed-Uncrewed Teaming Demonstrations with Autonomous Drone
QinetiQ announces the UK’s first jet-to-jet teaming between aircraft and autonomous drone

QinetiQ has conducted the U.K.'s first Crewed-Uncrewed Teaming (C-U-T) demonstration between a crewed aircraft and an autonomous jet drone.

This trial, executed in partnership with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Royal Navy, and the Air and Space Warfare Centre (ASWC), showcases the potential of integrating crewed and uncrewed platforms for enhanced combat capabilities.

The trial commenced with a QinetiQ jet aircraft departing from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) site at Boscombe Down in Salisbury. Simultaneously, a modified Banshee Jet 80 drone was launched from the MOD Hebrides range off the north-west coast of Scotland. The crewed aircraft swiftly established control over the drone during its flight from Boscombe to the Hebrides, issuing mission commands to the autonomous Banshee.

Equipped with QinetiQ's Airborne Command and Control for Swarm Interoperable Missions (ACCSIOM) technology, the Banshee executed its mission at a speed of 350 knots, part of a broader coordinated effort that included both live and digital Banshees operating in a virtual swarm.

The ACCSIOM system enables seamless communication between crewed and uncrewed assets using NATO Link 16 datalink standards, facilitating precise mission coordination. Safety measures built into the technology ensure operational compliance and safety limits for autonomous drones, allowing them to function effectively alongside crewed aircraft.

The demonstration marks a progress under the U.K.'s Accelerating Air Autonomy Capability Experimentation (A3CE) R&D programme, reflecting a year-long effort in planning, development, and testing by QinetiQ and Dstl.

The autonomous Banshee Jet 80 drone used in the trial is operated by Aerial Targets Services (ATS) under the QinetiQ Combined Aerial Targets Service (CATS) contract and is commonly utilized for target practice.

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