Lockheed Martin: £129 million to supply state-of-the-art for UK armed forces

Source: UK Ministry of Defence

More than 250 “portable” and “packable” mini drones will be delivered to the UK Armed Forces after the award of a contract worth £129 million to Lockheed Martin UK.

Replacing existing Mini Uncrewed Aerial Systems (MUAS) such as Desert Hawk 3, the 159 rotary-wing Indago 4 devices and 105 fixed-wing Stalker VXE30 drones, which are both capable of locating and identifying targets far from the operator, are due to be operational by the end of 2024.

Weighing a little over 20 kilograms and with a 4.88 metre wingspan, the portable Stalker is an operationally proven, vertical-launched, near-silent drone providing more than eight hours of imaging capability and able to cover around 60 miles.

The packable drone, Indago 4, weighing only 2.27 kilograms, can be folded and carried in a soldier’s backpack and deployed in just two minutes with a range of approximately eight miles. Its high-resolution camera systems provide incredible zoom capability to accurately identify people, objects, vehicles and weapons, day or night.

Both drone platforms will deliver cutting-edge imaging and surveillance and provide greater capability for the Armed Forces, locating targets at multiple ranges across a variety of environments.

With proven effectiveness in this technology, Lockheed Martin UK will be the Systems Integrator for the duration of the 10-year contract, working with numerous Small and Medium Enterprises as well as larger UAV manufacturers to iteratively develop the capability through life. This will ensure operational advantage is maintained by UK Armed Forces by upgrading the drones, keeping pace with technological changes and emerging threats when required.

Already used by the US military, the drones are designed to provide small military formations with immediate ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) capability – an increasingly vital component of modern battle spaces.

More than a dozen full-time UK jobs will be sustained at Lockheed Martin over the contract’s duration, mostly based at Havant and Gloucester, including engineering, commercial, project management and support roles. Further supply chain roles across the UK are expected to be supported throughout the contract.

Lockheed Martin UK will be the conduit to a collection of additional UK and international companies known as the “TIQUILA Enterprise”. This ensures that TIQUILA is able to access the best technology and ideas, as well as rapidly integrate them with their Stalker and Indago platforms.

Delivering on the Integrated Review, the mini drone capability will underline the British Army’s commitment to Future Solider, building an Armed Forces capable of tackling emerging threats and future challenges on the battlefield.

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