The UK’s RAF Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have announced the awarding of preliminary design contracts for the RAF’s Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept.
Under a technology demonstrator project known as Mosquito, the Phase 1 contracts were awarded to Blue Bear Systems Research, Boeing Defence UK, and Callen-Lenz (a partnership of Team BLACKDAWN, Bombardier Belfast and Northrop Grumman UK).
The Phase 1 contracts will produce preliminary system designs for unmanned air vehicle, and will assess the key risks and cost-capability trade-offs for an operational Loyal Wingman concept. It is hoped these studies could lead to initial flight trials of demonstrator air vehicles as early as 2022.
The LANCA program was initiated by the Dstl in 2015 to develop and better understand innovative future fast-jet air combat technologies and concepts, and was subsequently brought under the RAF RCO as part of the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI).
LANCA aims to explore the utility and feasibility of unmanned capability adjuncts to existing and future Fast Jet aircraft, specifically those that offer substantial reductions in traditional cost and development timelines. Project Mosquito has two planned phases. After Phase 1 which is scheduled to run for a year, Phase 2 will select up to two solutions to further mature the designs, complete manufacturing of the technology demonstrator and conclude with a limited flight-test program.
With Boeing Defence UK involved, it is possible that company will offer a variant of its Airpower Teaming System (ATS) concept currently under development by Boeing’s Phantom Works for the RAAF’s Air Force Minor Program DEF 6014 Phase 1 requirement for a Loyal Wingman demonstration.