Spirit AeroSystems - Loyal Wingman
Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA)
The Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept looks to offer increased capability, protection, survivability and information when deployed alongside combat aircraft. It could even provide an uncrewed combat air ‘fleet’ in the future. The innovative concept also aims to deliver dramatic reductions in traditional cost and development timelines for combat air systems. LANCA is intended to be deployed alongside fighter jets like the Typhoon and F-35. It could offer additional capabilities, and lend increased protection, survivability and information to the manned aircraft. Eventually, the LANCA could form part of an entirely unmanned combat air fleet.
LANCA originated in 2015 studies at DSTL to assess combat air technologies which could offer reductions in cost and development time, and was later brought into the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office as part of the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative. In a notable break with standard approaches to developing and deploying combat air systems, this concept aims to provide dramatic reductions in cost and development timeline.
Specifically, in a break with traditional approaches for combat air systems in the UK, the innovative LANCA concept aims to deliver dramatic reductions in traditional cost and development timeline. Under LANCA, a technology demonstrator project known as ‘Mosquito’ has awarded contracts for Phase 1 of the work, which will produce a preliminary system design for an unmanned air vehicle and assessment of the key risk areas and cost-capability trade-offs for an operational concept. Initial flight test of the demonstrator air vehicle could take place as early as 2022.
Phase 1 will include the exploration of novel design, development, prototyping, manufacture, and support, to enable low-cost rapid development and evolution of a potential future unmanned combat air system. Dstl, which provides science and technology for the defence and security of the UK, is delivering the technical oversight, project management, and partnering for Project Mosquito. For Phase 1, contracts were awarded to three teams led by Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd, Boeing Defence UK Ltd, and Callen-Lenz (Team BLACKDAWN partnered with Bombardier Belfast and Northrop Grumman UK Ltd).
LANCA originated in 2015 studies by Dstl to understand innovative Combat Air technologies and concepts that might offer radical reductions in cost and development time. Subsequently LANCA was brought into the RAF RCO as part of the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI). LANCA aims to explore the utility and feasibility of unmanned capability adjuncts to existing and future Fast Jet aircraft, specifically those that offer substantial reductions in traditional cost and development timelines.
Project Mosquito has two planned phases. After the 12-month Phase 1, Phase 2 will select up to two of the Phase 1 solutions to further mature the designs, complete manufacturing of the technology demonstrator and conclude with a limited flight-test program. The RAF RCO, in partnership with Dstl, is adopting creative approaches to deliver this challenging project. For example, by conducting a competition to access ‘best of breed’, it has enabled non-traditional suppliers to propose their approach to meet the MOD’s ambitious aims. Additionally, subject matter experts within the MOD are assigned as technical partners to each team, supporting industry with technical and operational advice and decisions. This will enhance the opportunity of this game-changing concept in a coherent approach for future combat air systems.
On 25 January 2021, Royal Air Force announced that U.S. firm Spirit AeroSystems was awarded a contract from the British Ministry of Defense for uncrewed fighter aircraft. “UK’s first fleet of uncrewed fighter aircraft a step closer with £30 million contract awarded to Spirit AeroSystems to design and manufacture a prototype capable of providing a battle-winning advantage to the RAF [Royal Air Force]”. Belfast-based Spirit AeroSystems will lead ‘Team Mosquito’ in the next phase of the project. The MoD said that the three-year contract to design and manufacture the prototype ‘loyal wingman’ alone would support more than 100 jobs.
Spirit AeroSystems, with headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, USA, is one of the world’s largest non-OEM designers and manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial and defense aircraft. In addition to its Wichita facilities, Spirit has locations in Tulsa and McAlester, Oklahoma; Kinston, North Carolina; Biddeford, Maine; San Antonio, Texas; Prestwick, Scotland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Subang, Malaysia; Casablanca, Morocco; and Saint-Nazaire, France. The company’s core products include fuselages, pylons, nacelles and wing components. Additionally, Spirit provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
Oct. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPR) ("Spirit AeroSystems") announced today it has completed, through its wholly-owned subsidiaries Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. ("Spirit") and Spirit AeroSystems Global Holdings Limited ("Spirit UK"), its acquisition of select assets of Bombardier aerostructures and aftermarket services businesses in Belfast, Northern Ireland (known as Short Brothers); Casablanca, Morocco; and Dallas, United States. The acquired Bombardier operations employ approximately 3,300 people at three sites comprising approximately 3.4 million square feet. The backlog of work includes long-term contracts on the Airbus A220 and Bombardier business jets, along with world-class aftermarket services at two of the acquired sites.
Spirit AeroSystems entered 2021 with a clear path forward as a more diversified, global and balanced company. Spirit has taken a number of steps to strategically transform its business, such as the acquisitions of FMI and select assets of Bombardier which have significantly expanded the company’s capabilities and work scope with new and current customers. Spirit continues to win new business with exciting and innovative companies such as Aerion Supersonic and Virgin Hyperloop, in addition to an expanding portfolio of defense work. Preparing for the recovery of the aviation market, Spirit continues to invest in efficiency improvements to make its operations safer, more agile and environmentally sustainable.
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