Mantis, the largest UK-made unmanned aircraft

The UK Ministry of Defense has just completed the maiden flight of Mantis, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan of approximately 20 meters, suitable for long-range aerial surveillance and intelligence gathering operations. Its size makes it the largest vehicle of this kind ever built in the UK, and among the largest in Europe.

Manufactured by BAE Systems, it can be easily dismantled and loaded on a transport aircraft, thanks to the lack of hydraulic parts as it is entirely electrically powered. Thanks to this characteristic, Mantis is capable of being deployed with extreme flexibility, also for carrying military equipment, ammunition and weapons within war zones, especially on rough terrains.

Its high level of automation allows it to automatically detect a sensitive target, and to transmit the relevant information to the ground station, as well as autonomously manage the flight, so that ground operators will only have to concentrate on the quality of intelligence and not on the flight operation, thus reducing any possible risk of mission failure due to human errors.

At BAE Systems, Mantis is labeled as an UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) rather than an UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) thanks to these automation features, which make it easy to be integrated with other vehicles of this kind produced by the same manufacturer and supplied to the British Ministry of Defense.

It took only 19 months from the first sketches of the project to this maiden flight, thanks to the quick interaction among manufacturers of individual system parts, and the same waiting time is expected before seeing a second version of Mantis, to be developed according to information gathered from this first set of test flights.

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