Thursday, February 22, 2024

QinetiQ launches low-cost, high-performance disposable Jackdaw UAS

British tech firm QinetiQ has introduced a new low-cost, high-performance ‘disposable’ uncrewed aerial system (UAS) concept called “Jackdaw.” Designed for swarming and collaborative autonomous operations, including crewed-uncrewed teaming, the new drone will fulfill multiple mission profiles, including reconnaissance, electronic warfare, airborne decoy, and threat representation.

Jackdaw aircraft will enable the UK military to reduce operational risk and increase combat mass by rapidly deploying large numbers of UAS in scenarios currently dependent upon small numbers of expensive crewed aerial platforms. By teaming large numbers of Jackdaw with other UAS and crewed platforms, mission effectiveness is enhanced, the threat to human lives is mitigated, and the cost of conducting operations is significantly reduced.

Jackdaw is designed to be reusable, and its low-cost disposable characteristics enhance operational flexibility by providing commanders with the option to sacrifice assets when needed.

The Jackdaw platform is designed to support 30kg of internal payload while achieving over three hours of endurance in theatre. It can reach a maximum speed of 400 knots (740 km/h or 460 mph) and altitudes of 30,000ft. The platform has been designed, manufactured, and tested in the UK, supporting sovereign resilience and prosperity as well as allowing easy adoption for allied countries.

Its potential applications include Land and maritime variants, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, red Air threat representation, and active and passive decoys.

“The Jackdaw concept leverages QinetiQ’s expertise in very low-cost high-performance aerial targets – such as the Banshee family – and is enhanced with autonomous mission management and human-machine teaming capabilities,” said Mick Andrae, Global Campaign Director, Robotics & Autonomous Systems, QinetiQ.

“Critically, Jackdaw’s autonomous goal-based mission management system is intended to integrate with NATO and allied open architectures, ensuring interoperability with existing and future crewed and uncrewed systems. This, combined with the very low-cost aerial target design philosophy, makes Jackdaw highly suitable for use as a disposable UAS in air, maritime, and land domain applications,” Mick added in an official release.

Qinetiq sees Jackdaw as part of a larger family of collaborative UAVs being developed by BAE Systems, and Inzpire will operate together seamlessly and coherently, aiding a more agile deployment and easier management from a central operations center. Service entry is targeted for the mid-2020s.