Project Mosquito, which showcases the technology of the UK’s Uncrode Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) program, has been completed “out of the design phase”. The Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capability Office (RCO) made the announcement on Friday evening.
“Through Project Mosquito and other pilot activities, the Royal Air Force has made significant progress and gained significant value in understanding and using a range of future unselected capabilities,” RCO chief Air Commodore Jaz Holmes said in an assistant press release. “This decision maximizes the learning achieved to date and enables a change of direction for the LANCA program. The Rapid Capability Office will now begin operations at a rapid pace to integrate RAF’s unwavering firm commitment into the near-term force mix with more immediate benefits.
This decision has been made in the light of a detailed review of mosquito technology exhibitors and the extensive Lanca program. The analysis and capability tests were conducted in parallel by RAF and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which concluded that exploring smaller and less expensive add-on capabilities could be more beneficial and more cost-effective for LANCA. Dstl is the technical authority of the Ministry of Defense for this program.
LANCA was launched in 2015 to create a “loyal wingman” that could work alongside current fighters such as the Typhoon and F-35B and later become part of the future combat air system. Three bidders submitted proposals for the development and construction of the Mosquito technology exhibitor, and in January 2021 a team from Spirit Aerosystem (formerly Bombardier Belfast), Callen-Lenz and Northrop Grumman UK received a three-year, £ 30 million contract for the work. The Mosquito Air Vehicle was scheduled to fly by the end of 2023.
The decision to end the Mosquito Exhibitor “will have no effect on the intent to create the most efficient and affordable energy mix possible, or loyal Wingman ideas under investigation in future combat air system enterprises,” the RCO noted in the release. “The program focuses on post-2035 capability space, where integration through a system-of-system approach has been a key requirement from the beginning.”