Initially, these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were created by the British companies BAE Systems and Malloy Aeronautics for civilian purposes. The T-600 even managed to deliver 50 kilograms of medicines to the British Isle of Wight in the English Channel at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Britain.
This operation strengthened the British navy and special forces in the desire to acquire reliable unmanned transport vehicles that would deliver heavy loads to them. The British Navy would also like to give the quadrocopter a rather specific task - to rescue sailors who have fallen overboard. The companies have signed a contract for 390 thousand pounds sterling to prepare drones for fleet tests, which ended the other day.
Today, many companies in the world, civil and defense, are developing cargo drones. The direction is considered extremely promising. The civilian and military markets are valued in the billions of dollars. But most of the vehicles built today are small and can carry a load weighing several kilograms.
There are, of course, "heavyweights". These include, for example, the 16-rotor drone 216L of the Chinese company EHang. Its maximum load capacity is 200 kilograms. Boeing CAV drone - 227 kilograms.
As for the British drones, their parameters are as follows. UAV Ultra - made of aluminum. Three compartments can accommodate a load weighing 100 kilograms. Not a record among drones, but it can deliver it to a distance of a thousand kilometers at aircraft speed. It was created for the British postal service to deliver letters and parcels to remote areas, in particular, to the Orkney Islands and the Scilly archipelago.
When approaching the point of dropping cargo on parachutes, the aircraft slows down its movement, which provides almost "jewelry precision". The Ultra UAV has successfully demonstrated its ability to take off and return from a Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, as well as to land its cargo precisely on the deck, flying over it very slowly and low. The drone also took off and landed in a regular clearing.
But the carrying capacity of the T-600 quadrocopter is more - 250 kilograms. The BAE company promises to test the T-650 quadrocopter with a higher load-lifting capacity next year. It will be able to transport up to 300 kilograms of cargo over a distance of 30 kilometers with a maximum speed of 140 kilometers per hour. Its body will be made of lightweight carbon fiber. During the transportation of the drone on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the beams with propellers will fold in order not to damage anything around.
Both drones fly autonomously but can be remotely controlled. At BAE and Malloy, they're pitching their drones to sailors as more than "flying trucks" for resupplying anything. In their opinion, drones are suitable for anti-submarine warfare, bombing and search and rescue operations at sea. And the T-600 quadrocopter can also be used to throw saboteurs behind the front line.
According to the chief technical director of the fleet, Brigadier General Dan Cheesman, during the tests, the drones successfully demonstrated their capabilities. But a serious problem emerged. Navy experts have determined that both drones are completely defenseless against electronic warfare (EW). It turned out that when exposed to enemy electronic warfare systems, the cargo may not reach the recipient and simply crash together with the drone into the sea or onto the ground.
In this regard, the UK Navy is preparing a request to the government for additional funds. They are planned to be spent on creating "the most secure channels" for controlling drones, excluding the possibility of interrupting the mission by the enemy.