The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Technology Office has awarded a contract to Italian company Leonardo Helicopters for Phase II of the rotary wing unmanned air system, capability concept demonstrator (RWUAS CCD) programme.
Under the two-year, jointly-funded, research and development (R&D) contract, Leonardo will also have to complete R&D works commenced under the RWUAS CCD Phase I programme held between 2013 and 2015.
UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said: “Supported by our rising defence budget and £178bn equipment plan, we want to transform defence and work with industry, academics and allies to find innovative ways to stay at the international cutting edge.
“This two-year £8m joint investment will sustain key high-skill jobs in Yeovil and is the next stage in understanding how unmanned air systems can keep our personnel safe on the battlefields of the future.”
In addition, the company will carry out further R&D, analysis and experimentation related to rotary winged air-vehicle technologies and rotary wing platform operations, within future operating environments, fleet mixes and the complete defence aviation capability structure.
Leonardo CEO and general manager Mauro Moretti said: “This is an exciting time as the opportunities presented by unmanned technologies start to be realised in the vertical take-off and landing sector.
“These technologies and systems can be a game changer in terms of undertaking a wide range of autonomous operations at a significantly lower cost.”
Leonardo will use new methods and technologies to reduce risks related to rotary wing operations in other challenging operating environments, including supporting regulatory development in this area.