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£8 million unmanned air system innovation phase

27 February 2017

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced the launch of a two year second phase of innovative R&D exploring the future of unmanned air systems.

SW-4 - A light single multi-purpose helicopter (Credit: Leonardo Helicopters)

This was announced as a part of a major innovation speech at the University of Oxford.

Developed in partnership with Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil, the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air Systems (RWUAS) Capability Concept Demonstrator will help our Armed Forces understand how unmanned air systems can support our personnel on the battlefields of the future by developing new concepts and technologies. 

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said “Defence is working with partners across the country to harness innovation to keep this country safe and build a prosperous economy for everyone. 

Backed by our rising defence budget and £178bn Equipment Plan, this joint research will deliver the understanding our Armed Forces need to maintain our military advantage in the future.”

The jointly funded program will utilise the specialist engineering skill base at Leonardo Helicopters by exploring emerging rotary wing technologies and methods. It aims to identify, develop and exploit the opportunities offered by emerging technologies, to reduce costs and increase the agility, flexibility, resilience and persistence of UK rotary wing capability. The announcement comes after the Royal Navy led ‘Unmanned Warrior’ in 2016: a major international demonstration of autonomous systems which could transform the way in which the Armed Forces of the future help keep Britain safe.

Chief Executive Officer of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support Organisation, Tony Douglas, said “investing in innovation is a priority in DE&S and research programs, such as the Rotary Wing Unmanned Air System, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our Armed Forces have the best and most advanced equipment and support possible. 

“This project also highlights how we collaborate effectively with industry, utilising skills across both organisations to fully understand the emerging capabilities in the unmanned arena.”


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