A recent NATO exercise in the waters off the coast of Portugal saw naval drones reach a new level. As part of the exercise, a BAE Systems/Malloy Aeronautics T-600 heavy lift Uncrewed Air System (UAS) air launched an inert Sting Ray training torpedo.
The major navies of the world have a keen interest in aerial drones of all shapes and sizes. As these become more sophisticated, they’ve moved into more niches, freeing up humans for more important tasks.
Though at first glance it looks like the sort of quadcopter drones used to make videos, the T-600 is about the size of a compact car. It’s an electric-powered demonstrator craft that is easily broken down for transport, has a payload of 200 kg (441 lb), top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph) and a range of 80 km (50 miles).
As part of NATO’s Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping with Maritime Uncrewed Systems (REPMUS) 2023 exercise, the T-600 went through a series of demonstrations for representatives from NATO countries as well as Ireland and Sweden.
The highlight of these demos was the drop of a Sting Ray training variant anti-submarine torpedo. It was the first time such a weapon had been deployed by a drone as part of a sea mission. The purpose was not only to show off the T600’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities, but also its potential for automated logistics, resupply, casualty evacuation and other tasks, with a relatively light environmental footprint but without the need for human pilots.
According to BAE Systems, the T-600 will be the basis for an all-new T-650 all-electric heavy lift UAS with rapid reconfiguration capabilities for military, commercial and humanitarian markets.
“In just two years since we launched our collaboration with Malloy, we’ve developed a heavy lift UAS and working with the UK Royal Navy and Portuguese Navy, have taken part in the latest NATO REPMUS exercise,” said Neil Appleton, Head of Sustainable Electric Products, BAE Systems Air. “The demonstration showcased the capability of our T-600 technology demonstrator, carrying an inert Sting Ray torpedo in front of the world’s premier naval forces.”
Source: BAE Systems