Unmanned aircraft will remain key to the future of the RAF, despite the cancellation of Project Mosquito, a retired RAF Air Vice Chief Marshall has told Forces News.
The £30m scheme to develop an unmanned aircraft, armed with missiles, surveillance and electronic warfare technology, was scrapped due to cost.
However, the technology developed so far will be used on future projects, which could take the shape of smaller UAVs – or swarming drones – to fly alongside the F-35 and Typhoon fast jets.
Air Vice Chief Marshall Sean Bell told Forces News they are critical to the RAF's future as "an unmanned vehicle could stay up there for 24 hours, harvesting information".
"Now, as a pilot, my bladder wouldn't last that long, so for some environments, it's much better to have unmanned [vehicles]," he said.
He added that the "world has woken up to the fact that we may not only be involved in wars of choice".
"We may end up being involved in wars of national survival and, in those sorts of scenarios, where it's a much more difficult air threat, we need to make sure that our defences and our platforms are configured accordingly."
Cover image: MOD.