The UK Royal Navy (RN) has awarded a £1.5m contract to QinetiQ to evaluate Banshee Jet80+ air vehicle’s military effect aboard HMS Prince of Wales.

The trial is expected to take place later this year.

It will be conducted during the first deployment of the RN’s Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, off the East coast of the US.

As part of this deployment, QinetiQ will provide its Banshee Jet80+ and experimentation expertise.

It will support RN’s future use of high-performance uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) in Carrier Strike Group (CSG) operations.

These trials are related to the RN’s Vampire Phase 1 programme, awarded to QinetiQ in April, and will test its target systems in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) training environments.

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By GlobalData

The experimental trials will focus on specific flight profiles and optical recognition of assets to provide friend-or-foe confirmation.

RN Carrier Strike & Maritime Aviation head colonel Phil Kelly RM said: “The continued partnership with QinetiQ on Project Vampire is invaluable to support evidence gathering as to how such capabilities can grow lethality of our aircraft carriers.

“These trials will see us using Banshee in sample ISR scenarios, a role that could be delivered rapidly in operating environment.

“It will also show how Vampire can deliver our training needs to better prepare for realistic threats, ensuring that our training continues to remain close to real-life situations.”

The Banshee aerial vehicles allow to practice operational procedures by emulating cruise missiles and enemy’s fast jets.

In 2019, HMS Prince of Wales conducted the first flight test of Banshee target drones from its flight deck.