Airborne control of UAV swarms

By Paul Parkinson

I was listening to BBC Radio 4′s Today Programme before breakfast this morning, when I was surprised to hear a story about aerospace developments make mainstream news. A BBC journalist described how he had flown on a QinetiQ BAC 1-11 passenger jet with aircrew, but this had been remotely piloted from an RAF Tornado military fast jet. There’s a summary of the story online in ‘Fighter-controlled jet is tested (BBC News).

This latest capability demonstration is a significant step forward from QinetiQ’s world-first flight trial late last year of a system capable of controlling a UAV swarm from a mothership (reported in Defense News and Aerospace Media), as it shows how control of UAVs can be achieved closer to their theatre of operations, and overcome some of the problems sometimes associated with distant remote control, such as the inability to respond to rapidly changing situations.

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