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  • Pictures: BAE's Mantis Preys on Predator Territory
    Posted by Graham Warwick 3:27 PM on Jul 15, 2008

    BAE Systems has taken the wraps off its Mantis long-endurance unmanned aircraft technology demonstrator at Farnborough, but details of the vehicle's capabilities - and the UK's ultimate plans - remain scant. It does look like a "real" aeroplane, though...

    blog post photo
    Photo: Mark Wagner

    The Mantis is clearly in the same class as General Atomics' MQ-9 Reaper, its span around 22m compared with the Reaper's 20m. According to Aviation Week's reporter on the scene, Douglas Barrie, an operational variant would have 30 hours-plus endurance, a speed under 300kt and an altitude capability of 25,000-50,000ft. Read Douglas's story here.

    The prototype Mantis, which is scheduled to fly early in 2009, will not have that level of performance, however. On the prototype only, power will come from a pair of Rolls-Royce 250 turboprops driving four-blade pusher propellers, distinctively cantilevered off the aft fuselage.

    blog post photo
    Photo: Mark Wagner

    Phase 1 of the Mantis advanced technology concept demonstration is being jointly funded by BAE and the UK Ministry of Defence. This will look at technologies applicable to the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission along with the unmanned strike role - the mockup carries four Paveway IV precision-guided bombs and six Brimstone missiles. Payload options include synthetic-aperture radar, electro-optical sensor, and signals and electronic intelligence suites. The "hump" would house a satcom antenna. 

    blog post photo
    Photo: Mark Wagner

    What lies beyond Phase 1 no-one is saying yet. But with the US Air Force looking for a next-generation unmanned aircraft to follow Predator and Reaper by 2015, BAE's Mantis may attract attention from more than just the UK armed forces.

    Tags: ar99, BAE, UAV, Reaper, Mantis

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