UK’s MoD procures Elbit Magni-X drones for troop recon missions

UK MoD Elbit drones

The UK is continuing its drive to broaden the use of drones of all sizes and purposes by its armed forces, most recently with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) contracting Israeli UAV manufacturer Elbit Systems to supply its portable Magni-X reconnaissance craft.

The MoD has hired Elbit to provide the two-kilo, backpackable Magni-X drones to the Future Capability group, a division of the UK military’s Defence Equipment and Support organization dedicated to identifying cutting-edge technologies for procurement and use by the armed forces. The craft can be manually piloted or used on autonomous missions – either individually or in swarms – and has been designed for quiet, low profile, radar-confounding reconnaissance and intelligence gathering objectives.

ReadUK’s MoD launches $157 million small drone program for troops 

The Elbit deal has come amid considerably accelerated activity by the MoD and divisions of the UK military to increase the use of drones – both large and small – as assets for conflict scenarios, as well as in routine operations like reprovisioning offshore ships. In the case of the Magni-X UAVs, deployment will most likely serve to support combat and stealth information collection operations.

Under its agreement with the MoD, Elbit will begin delivering the drones by mid-2023 to UK military clients – the most recent of several “armed forces across the globe” using the craft, according to the company.

The quadcopter will come capable of carrying a variety of payloads ­­­– including Electro-Optical and Infrared gimballed cameras – and designed to give operators long- and short-range reconnaissance capabilities for up to an hour per battery charge. 

“This contract represents another milestone in Elbit Systems UK’s delivery of advanced UAS systems to the UK Armed Forces,” said Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK affiliate that will manage work under the contract, whose value was not disclosed. “The unique capabilities of these systems demonstrate our commitment to being at the forefront of technological advances to support the integration of robotics and autonomous systems to enhance the British Army’s capabilities.”

ReadRoyal Navy drone research and test unit debuts as UAV producer 

Like most countries moving to integrate larger numbers of drones in their armed forces, the UK has been relying on private sector developers to supply aerial systems chosen for use. In addition to defense and security specialists like Elbit and Lockheed Martin – which was selected late last year to provide 250 cutting-edge mini-UAVs to UK troops – the MoD has also ordered specialized craft made by consumer manufacturers like DJI and Skydio.

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