The United Kingdom government has officially canceled the Mosquito program, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) that represented the first step of the Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) programme, whose goal was to build an indigenous Loyal Wingman that can operate alongside the Lockheed Martin F-35 fleet.
Launched in 2015, LANCA project had by 2019 three bidders for the demonstrator design and build stage of the contract: Boeing Defence UK, Blue Bear Systems Research with its Team Avenger and Team Blackdawn, later renamed Team Mosquito, comprising Bombardier Belfast (now Spirit AeroSystems), Callen-Lenz and Northrop Grumman UK. Team Mosquito was awarded a £30 million contract in January 2021.
«The accumulation of analysis concluded that more beneficial capability and cost-effectiveness appears achievable through exploration of smaller, less costly, but still highly capable additive capabilities,» said the Ministry of Defence in a press release.
«The decision was informed by parallel analysis and capability experimentation conducted by the RAF and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)», Defence adds, and it states that «Deciding to not proceed with the specific manufacturing technology demonstrator will not impact on the wider intent to build the most capable and cost-effective force mix possible, or the “Loyal Wingman” concepts under investigation within the Future Combat Air System Enterprise.»
«Through Project Mosquito and other experimentation activities the Royal Air Force has made substantial progress and gained significant value in understanding and harnessing a range of future uncrewed capabilities. This decision maximises the learning accrued to date and enables a change of direction for the LANCA programme», said Air Commodore Jez Holmes, Head of the Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).
«The RCO will now quickly launch activities to aggressively pursue the RAF’s unchanged firm commitment to integrate advanced uncrewed capabilities into the near-term force mix with more immediate beneficial value», he concluded.
Defence adds that «The Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) programme remains focused on the post-2035 capability space, where integration through a system-of-systems approach has been a key requirement from the outset.»