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QinetiQ Demos UK’s First Crewed-Uncrewed Aircraft Teaming

Defense technology company QinetiQ has trialed the UK’s first manned-unmanned aircraft teaming.

A QinetiQ jet took control of a modified Banshee 80 drone mid-air during the trial before the drone performed autonomous missions at 350 knots (648 kilometers/402 miles per hour).

A number of digital Banshees also completed the mission simultaneously as part of a live virtual swarm.

“It [the trial] represents a significant advance in developing technologies that will allow uncrewed systems to operate seamlessly with current aircraft, providing the basis for air operations for the next twenty years,” QinetiQ Managing Director of Science & Technology lan Hart said.

How They Communicated

The aircraft communicated with the Banshee through QinetiQ’s Airborne Command and Control for Swarm Interoperable Missions technology using the same messaging format as the standard NATO Link 16 datalink.

“Instrumental to the deployment of autonomous air platforms, the technology provides an airborne gateway which can receive and translate both long range and short range communications between drones while in-built safety systems can override the autonomy to ensure the drone stays at all times within a safe operating area,” Hampshire-based QinetiQ explained.

The trial took place in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the Royal Navy, and the Air and Space Warfare Centre.

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