This article first appeared in AviationWeek.com.
The U.K.'s Mantis medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) demonstrator has completed a series of test flights using the range at Woomera in Australia. The first flight was made Oct. 21, but was only revealed today. Several mission-representative trials have since been carried out, marking the culmination of phase one of the Mantis program, which has now been concluded.
The BAE Systems-led program is being jointly funded by the Defense Ministry and industry and is aimed at addressing both potential British and export requirements for a UAV in this class. Phase Two of the program has yet to be agreed between the industry partners and the ministry, with discussions ongoing examining a variety of funding mechanisms to support the next stage of the incremental development project. The Mantis, which has 65.6-foot wingspan, is the largest autonomous UAV to be built by the U.K. The rapid development program took 19-months from concept to first flight. The Mantis is intended to be able to carry electro-optical and radar sensors, as well as a range of air-to-surface weapons. BAE partners on the program include Rolls-Royce, Qinetiq, GE Aviation, Meggit and Selex Galileo.