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DSEI Connect

01 Nov 2022

Mosquito remarks bite for RAF

Tim Martin
Mosquito remarks bite for RAF
"Let’s just say don’t act surprised if the phrase ‘so much so’ gets erased from MoD scriptwriting for the foreseeable future."

The optimistic assessment of Project Mosquito was one of the most interesting takeaways from Mike Wigston's DSEI 2021 speech, but so short-lived was the programme that a physical demonstrator was never built.

Of all that was said by RAF Chief of Air Staff Mike Wigston in his DSEI 2021 keynote speech, one unfortunate and now badly aged prediction stands out.

‘This is a game-changing project, in every sense, and it is going really well. So much so, that I’m confident enough to announce that we will see the Mosquito demonstrator flying in UK airspace by the end of 2023, perhaps even for DSEI 23,’ he declared.

As we know, no such demonstration will take place after Project Mosquito was cancelled, nor was a physical demonstrator even built by the time the programme was axed in June 2022.

Let’s just say don’t act surprised if the phrase ‘so much so’ gets erased from MoD scriptwriting for the foreseeable future.

The RAF has since been keen to downplay the cancellation by talking of continued investment not making sense and wanting to explore ‘more beneficial’ capabilities but has still to reveal any details about how new plans are unfolding.

There’s obviously a temptation to cast the failed effort off as a failure, a £30 million ($35 million) one at that, and argue a chance to make future capability advancements has been lost – were it not for a wide variety of adjunct aircraft concepts taking hold across industry.

Boeing has, for example, held discussions with the MoD about uncrewed aircraft as recently as July 2022, which does not take a wild leap in imagination to think the two parties spoke about Australia’s MQ-28 Ghost Bat/Air Power Teaming System.

RAF Project Mosquito JetsA not to scale, model version of the aircraft was also displayed at this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, held at RAF Fairford, where BAE Systems also showed off two UAS concepts which the company told Shephard ‘could help contribute to our thinking around adjunct capabilities as part of the future combat system [FCAS].’

Scrutiny of funding toward an alternative to Project Mosquito will likely be all the more intense now that plan A has been scrapped, making decisions around the RAF’s future force mix that bit more complicated, even before it gets to grips with the more basic technical considerations linked to crewed and uncrewed teaming.

The way ahead for finding a low-cost, attritable UAV solution capable of supporting strike and ISR missions by no means looks certain with delays to aircraft development and testing potentially slowing the pace of FCAS.

If only a ‘game-changing project’ could be conjured up.

Concept art showing the UK's Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft, part of Project Mosquito. (Image: UK MoD)


WATCH MIKE WIGSTON'S DSEI 2021 KEYNOTE SPEECH:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Tim Martin, Air Editor for Shephard Media, based in Belfast. 

Shephard Media are MISO's Intelligence Partner

 

 

 

 

Intro Text

"Let’s just say don’t act surprised if the phrase ‘so much so’ gets erased from MoD scriptwriting for the foreseeable future."
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