QinetiQ has been awarded a $7.8m (£6m) Vampire Phase I contract to support the future uncrewed aerial system (UAS) operations for the UK Royal Navy (RN).

Under the four-year contract, QinetiQ will supply its Banshee Jet80+ targets to assist in the training of RN’s aircraft carriers for real-world situations.

In September 2021, the RN demonstrated QinetiQ’s Banshee Jet80+ from the deck of aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales.

The RN will now assess and trial the capability of small, fixed-wing, jet powered uncrewed systems under the new contract.

QinetiQ Group managing director maritime and land Steve Fitz-Gerald said: “The Vampire Phase I contract demonstrates QinetiQ’s capability to deliver complex training and evaluation exercises for the Royal Navy.

“The use of crewless technology is paramount to the Royal Navy’s future programmes and this UK capability, already used around the world, will deliver an efficient, value for money method of training, whether at home or during deployment overseas.”

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The Banshee Jet 80+ aerial targets are designed to run drills during missions by emulating enemy fast jets and cruise missiles.

Capable of operating at 25,000ft altitude or above the sea surface, the Banshee drones can cruise at maximum speeds of 400k.

The Vampire Phase I contract will allow the navy to evaluate wider concepts of operations of UAS to deliver capabilities in several areas including surveillance, intelligence and stand in jamming and working as decoys.

Furthermore, the contract will also enable the acquisition and development of such systems for its Future Maritime Aviation Force, which comprises of both crewed and uncrewed systems.

UK RN Strike and Maritime Aviation head carrier colonel Phil Kelly said: “As we see these threats and the technology supporting them evolve globally, we must ensure our training is as close to the real-life situation as possible and we’re grateful that QinetiQ can support us in achieving this.”