The UK Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge, announced the Government’s new Drone Strategy at Malloy Aeronautics’ uncrewed aerial system (UAS) facility in Maidenhead on 22 February 2024.

Backed by at least £4.5bn ($5.69bn) of investment over the next decade, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) aims to accelerate access to uncrewed systems for the UK Armed Forces, rapidly equipping them with innovative technology across air, sea, and land.

At the centre of operations, it appears that Malloy – a supplier of all-electric UAS – could be set to benefit significantly from this announcement, just 20 days after it was acquired by British defence prime, BAE Systems.

At the time of the deal, the value for which remains undisclosed, BAE stated: “We’re confident that the synergy between our two companies will pave the way for even greater achievements in UAS,” a claim that now rings true by the unveiling of the Government’s Drone Strategy.

“This new step in our journey with BAE Systems will allow us to combine the strengths and vision of a young company with the reach and support of an experienced one,” Oriol Badia, Malloy’s COO stated.

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An inability to access the MoD’s defence ecosystem has long been a frustration among many small to medium sized enterprises. This acquisition will enable Malloy to benefit from BAE’s experience in dealing with defence prorcurement cricles.

MoD learns lessons from UAS warfare in Ukraine

In a speech in the House of Commons on the same day the drone strategy was announced, the UK Minister of Defence, Grant Shapps, observed that the war in Ukraine “has demonstrated that drones are changing the face of modern warfare and we are already learning the lessons from that.”

Recently, the UK and Latvia unveiled plans to co-lead a coalition aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s defence capabilities by supplying uncrewed systems. The initiative will see a surge in providing First-Person-View (FPV) drones to Ukrainian forces to enhance situational awareness on the battlefield.

According to the leading intelligence consultancy, GlobalData, Ukraine’s drone fleet has destroyed crucial Russian supply trucks, delayed the Russian military’s advances, and exposed the Russian army’s vulnerabilities.

“This strategy… offers the opportunity to transform our approach to the acquisition, integration, and exploitation of uncrewed systems.”

UK Strategic Commander, General Jim Hockenhull.

With such effective results in mind, the new strategy will help to deliver the systems at pace.

“This strategy… offers the opportunity to transform our approach to the acquisition, integration, and exploitation of uncrewed systems,” the UK Strategic Commander, General Jim Hockenhull, pointed out.

A comprehensive partnership with industry is at the core of the Drone Strategy, and building on the UK’s extensive industrial, robotics and digital heritage.

“Through regular, clear industry engagements,” the MoD stated. “We will incentivise industry to support the rapid manufacture and adaptation at a scale and capability able to deliver operational advantage for our Armed Forces.”

Additional reporting from Harry McNeil.