In a recent NATO exercise conducted in the waters off the coast of Portugal, naval drones showcased a remarkable advancement by launching an anti-submarine torpedo. This groundbreaking event marked a significant leap in the field of unmanned aerial systems, demonstrating the potential for integrating heavy lift drones into maritime warfare operations.
The BAE Systems/Malloy Aeronautics T-600 heavy load Uncrewed Air System (UAS), which resembles a quadcopter but is around the size of a compact car, is at the forefront of this development. The T-600, an electric vehicle, has an amazing range of 80 km (50 miles), a payload capacity of 200 kg (441 lb), and a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph). Its adaptability makes it a highly valuable asset for a range of operations and makes transportation simple.
During the NATO’s Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping with Maritime Uncrewed Systems (REPMUS) 2023 exercise, the T-600 underwent a series of demonstrations, captivating representatives from NATO member countries as well as Ireland and Sweden. The highlight of these demonstrations was the successful launch of an inert Sting Ray training variant anti-submarine torpedo—a groundbreaking event in modern drone platforms conducting sea missions.
The demonstration not only emphasized the T-600’s potential in anti-submarine warfare but also showcased its capabilities for automated logistics, resupply operations, casualty evacuation, and other vital tasks. Additionally, the environmental benefits of employing drones for such missions were highlighted, underlining the reduced environmental footprint compared to traditional manned approaches.
BAE Systems plans to build upon the success of the T-600, aiming to develop the T-650 all-electric heavy lift UAS. This upcoming model is set to feature rapid reconfiguration capabilities, catering to military, commercial, and humanitarian markets. Neil Appleton, Head of Sustainable Electric Products at BAE Systems Air, expressed the excitement surrounding this achievement, emphasizing the significant progress made in a short span of two years since the collaboration with Malloy began. The demonstration not only showcased the T-600’s prowess but also affirmed its potential for integration into the world’s premier naval forces, paving the way for a future where heavy lift drones play a crucial role in maritime operations.