BAE unveils plans for an autonomous collaborative platform


Subscale model of proposed ACP demonstrator is on display at the World Defense Show in Saudi Arabia

Subscale model of proposed ACP demonstrator is on display at the World Defense Show in Saudi Arabia (Source: Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal)


BAE envisions a platform that would seamlessly complement current fast jets like the Eurofighter Typhoon and upcoming aircraft generations, according to Steve Reeves, head of business development and strategy (platforms) at BAE’s FalconWorks technology accelerator.

The proposed attritable platform heavily relies on artificial intelligence integration, featuring goal-based autonomy. Its potential roles span intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic attack, with provisions for air-to-surface and air-to-air weapons housed within two internal bays.

Similar in size to BAE’s Hawk advanced jet trainer, the single-engined concept promises subsonic performance, electric actuation, and some low-observable features, funded internally.

Reeves emphasizes the necessity of affordability for combat mass generation, stressing the importance of the price point for customers. He hints at the possibility of multiple platforms with self-organizing capabilities.

Designed for conventional runway use, the ACP could boast an operational radius of 1,500nm (2,770km), stored within a container for assembly and deployment as needed. Reeves underscores the significance of operating at range with extended loiter capabilities.

The program aims for first flight within two years, seeking industrial partners to ensure optimal development. Reeves suggests the adaptability of the system’s ‘brain’ to other platforms beyond BAE’s.

“This aligns with the air power goals of many global air forces, given its size and range,” he concludes.

Various nations are exploring such adjunct capabilities for their advanced fighters, with the US referring to its efforts in this domain as collaborative combat aircraft. The UK Ministry of Defence plans to release its ACP strategy document soon, eyeing technology outside the ongoing Global Combat Air Programme collaboration with Italy and Japan.

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