The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded Lockheed Martin a 129-million-euro ($157 million) contract to supply more than 250 mini drones for the British Army.
The platforms are expected to provide advanced surveillance and imaging, also being used for locating targets in multi-environment scenarios.
“As the global threat changes, it’s crucial we remain at the forefront of innovation, delivering cutting edge capabilities to our deployed forces. This is another fantastic example of British industry supporting UK defence technology,” UK Defence Procurement Minister Alex Chalk said.
The first tranche of new drones will enter service by the end of 2024.
The Indago 4 features a high-resolution camera with a zoom capability to precisely identify weapons, personnel, and other threats, day or night.
Its 2.27-kilogram (5 pounds) weight allows the system to be carried in a backpack and deployed in two minutes at a range of eight miles (13 kilometers).
The Stalker is a vertically-launched drone with a 4.88-meter wingspan (16 feet) and a weight of 20 kilograms (44 pounds). It can conduct imaging operations for eight hours and silently cover 60 miles (97 kilometers) of area.
“These remotely piloted systems will enhance the ability of our soldiers to gather crucial intelligence and capture essential imagery in a tactical environment, ”UK Defense Equipment & Support CEO Andy Start explained.
“As well as equipping the UK Armed Forces for operations now and into the future, this key programme supports highly skilled jobs for the next decade.”
Lockheed Martin will work on the program alongside the TIQUILA Enterprise, a consortium of small and medium businesses, at facilities in Havant and Gloucester.
“TIQUILA will bring the next generation of remotely piloted air systems into service in the Army. It will provide the means for the capability to remain at the leading edge of innovation allowing it to adapt to new threats,” TIQUILA-British Army Senior Manager Brig. Pete Drew said.
“Employing a Systems Integrator approach will ensure that UK Defence is able to make the most of innovative development and Project TIQUILA’s rapid capability integration cycle, to deliver the latest and best capability into the hands of our users on the front line,” TIQUILA-UKStratCom Senior Manager Air Comm. Steve Bentley added.