Even if the first flight was later than originally anticipated, development of the UK’s Mantis medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle remains racy by normal standards.
It took 19 months from “flash to bang” to get the twin-engine 66.5 feet wingspan UAV in the air, with a first flight on October 21. A series of ‘missions’ were carried out, concluding the first phase of development before industry lead BAE Systems revealed that the Mantis had actually got airborne.
The demonstrator is jointly funded by the UK Defense Ministry and industry and is aimed at exploring technology applicable to an armed intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance UAV.
Alongside BAE, Rolls-Royce, Qinetiq, GE Aviation, Meggit, and Selex Galileo are industry partners in the program.
Exactly what happens following the completion of phase one has yet to be determined. Industry and the Defense Ministry are now discussing phase two of the program, with a variety of funding mechanisms being looked at to support the next stage of the incremental development.
Industry would undoubtedly have liked the funding for the next stage to already have been agreed.
Picture/video credit BAE Systems