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BAE Systems has bought a UK technology specialist developing innovative, “heavy-lift” drones capable of delivering supplies or evacuating troops.
The FTSE 100 defence group said on Friday it was buying Berkshire-based Malloy Aeronautics for an undisclosed sum.
The purchase comes amid increased investor interest in drones and other unmanned aircraft systems in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
The success of unmanned aerial systems on the battlefield has highlighted the disruption to defence procurement by innovative technologies such as sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence. Such cutting-edge technologies are allowing companies to develop lower-cost defence systems that reduce the risk to human life.
With many of these technologies being developed by start-ups, industry experts are predicting more such deals as larger incumbents try to keep up with the rapid advances offered by smaller, more agile players. Swedish defence group Saab bought a 5 per cent stake in European defence technology start-up Helsing last year.
Malloy Aeronautics has developed a range of unmanned, electric heavy-lift quadcopters capable of lifting payloads weighing from 68kg to 300kg for short to medium-range missions. While the primary purpose of the drones is to provide logistical support for both military and civil missions, Malloy has also developed an evacuation pod.
Under the terms of the agreement, Malloy’s 80-strong workforce will continue to operate from its site in Berkshire but the company will become part of FalconWorks, the research and development arm of BAE Systems’s air sector division.
The two companies have been working together since 2021, including on the development of the 300kg T-650, an all-electric uncrewed aerial system. The companies last year demonstrated the release of a 200kg inert torpedo using an electric-powered T-600 prototype aircraft during a Nato exercise.
The deal 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”, said Oriol Badia, chief operating officer of Malloy Aeronautics.