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‘Ground-breaking’ unmanned combat aircraft project in Northern Ireland

Written by on 25/01/2021

More than 100 jobs will be supported by production of a new unmanned combat aircraft in Northern Ireland.

Work on the aircraft, nicknamed the “loyal wingman”, is set to begin after £30m of government investment and Spirit AeroSystems in Belfast has been selected to lead Team Mosquito in the next phase of the project.

The aircraft will be designed to fly at high speed alongside fighter jets, the Ministry of Defence said.

It will be armed with missiles, surveillance and electronic warfare technology.

It will be the UK’s first uncrewed platform able to target and shoot down enemy aircraft and survive surface-to-air missiles.

Team Mosquito will aim to produce a full-scale vehicle flight-test programme by 2023.

The director of Future Combat Air at the MoD, Richard Berthon, said: “Project Mosquito is a vital element of our approach to Future Combat Air, rapidly bringing to life design, build and test skills for next generation combat air capabilities.

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“Autonomous ‘loyal wingman’ aircraft create the opportunity to expand, diversify and rapidly upgrade Combat Air Forces in a cost-effective way, now and in the future.”

Image issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of unmanned combat aircraft nicknamed the 'loyal wingman'
Image: A flight test programme will be produced by 2023

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “This is fantastic news and underlines the distinct strengths in Northern Ireland’s economy, through its advanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities.

“This ground-breaking project will involve significant investment which will not only support local employment, but also reinforce Northern Ireland’s contribution to the security of our nation.”

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “This is a great win for the Northern Ireland defence industry and will showcase some of the most pioneering engineering work currently being undertaken in the UK.

“The £30m project will accelerate the development of the UK’s future air power by delivering cutting-edge uncrewed aircraft, maintaining our position as a world leader in emerging technologies.”

 Sky News

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