This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
Manufacturer BAE Systems is formulating its marketing of the Mantis medium-altitude long-endurance UAV demonstrator air vehicle in the U.S., following the recent kickoff of test flights of the U.K. version.
Mark Brown, BAE Systems vice president of unmanned aerial systems, is positioning the Mantis as a next-generation UAV. "When we talk about Mantis specifically, you're talking about a theater/strategic platform that has the ability to satisfy intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance requirements and also be a weapons carrier," Brown said.
Mantis is the largest autonomous vehicle ever built in the U.K., with a wingspan of 65.6 feet. Were BAE to build the Mantis for a U.S. market, a second, separate production line would be launched. Whether that line were based in the U.S. or in the U.K. is "an open question," Brown said. The company is also open to partnering with another defense contractor, but "no decisions" have been made, he added. As to when the Mantis will make its North American debut, BAE's U.K. liaison officer Matt Pearson would say only, "it's certainly worth thinking about."
Brown said Mantis is flexible. "We built this aircraft with manned standards in mind," he said, noting the UAV was designed just like any other manned aircraft, from the twin engines to the logistics plan. "It gets us where we want to be -- fully certified in any airspace," Pearson said.
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