JACKAL VTOL drone fires advanced multi-role missiles in successful trial
The age of uncrewed air combat took a step forward as two Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) JACKAL drones developed by Flyby Technology successfully fired a Thales Lightweight Multirole Missiles (LMM) in tests sponsored by the Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) of the Royal Air Force.
Ever since it was realized that a reconnaissance drone could be armed with bombs or missiles, Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) have become a standard part of many nation's air wings. However, simply bolting a weapon to a wing or sticking a warhead in a suicide drone is still a very long way from a true air combat vehicle.
Working with Turkish partners FlyBVLOS Technology and Maxwell Innovations, UK-based Flyby Technology is developing its JACKAL UCAV, which is aimed at countries that cannot afford to field attack helicopters or light fighter aircraft. By being able to take off and land vertically, it doesn't require vulnerable runways or roads and it can carry out battlefield air interdiction, close air support, anti-helicopter, and anti-armor missions.
For the recent test, the JACKAL was armed with the modular Thales LMM, known as the Martlet by the Royal Navy, which is designed for maritime, air-to-surface, surface-to-surface, and surface-to-air engagements. The test not only involved firing two of the advanced missiles, but also the construction of two JACKAL drones in six weeks to demonstrate its plug-and-play design that is intended to help avoid short-term obsolescence.
"Given the impressively short time scale it took the team to deliver the initial trial, it’s clear that Flyby could have an exciting future in this sector, and the partnering and support from Thales was outstanding in lowering the barriers to entry for innovative start-ups" said Air Commodore Jez Holmes, Head of the RCO. "I’m looking forward to seeing the ongoing developments in this area."
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