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Gloucestershire Business News

BAE Systems thinking big by going small

BAE Systems has teamed up with Cotswolds company UAVTEK to develop a nano drone which is being tested by the Army.

Thirty of the Bug drones, which have a low visual profile and the ability to fly in winds of more than 50mph, have been delivered for the trial.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) weighs 196g - around the weight of a smartphone - with 40 minute battery life and a 2km range.

James Gerard, principal technologist at BAE Systems' Applied Intelligence business which has a base in Brockworth, said: "We delivered the Bug in partnership with UAVTEK, an SME that designs and builds UAVs from its workshop in the Cotswolds.

"Our experience in developing large volumes of secure hardware means we were able to help the team turn the excellent design into a real product which our armed forces can use.

"This kind of collaboration is happening right across BAE Systems and is a great way to quickly get the best thinking from small companies into the hands of military users."

He continued: "In even the toughest weather, the Bug can deliver vital tactical intelligence on what's around the corner or over the next hill, working autonomously to give troops a visual update.

"Combined with our other information advantage products, this video feed could be shared multi-domain, enabling commanders on land, sea and air to increase their situational awareness and inform their decisions."

It was the only nano-UAV able to cope with the weather during an Army warfighting experiment hosted by the Ministry of Defence's Future Capability Group.

Innovations at the annual event are designed to explore emerging technologies and identify specific capabilities.

Emphasis is placed on innovations which push the boundaries of technology and military capability, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user whilst giving invaluable military feedback to suppliers.

UAVTEK director Jenna Copley said: "BAE Systems has been extremely supportive of us as an SME and the team has shared procedural knowledge to improve our engineering processes and practices.

"BAE Systems has effectively offered us a mentoring partnership and supported us in a variety of activities, whilst still enabling us to remain an agile SME and keep our core offerings and DNA."

The teams are working on the next developments on the nano-UAV, exploring sensing equipment and capabilities as well as how the Bug could be integrated with other military equipment.

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