LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defence will intensify efforts to equip the armed forces with unmanned capabilities, a top procurement official said at the 2023 edition of the DSEI show here.

Defence Procurement Minister James Cartlidge told hundreds of military and industry officials attending a speech opening the event that the Government intends to produce a strategy document covering the drone sector.

In part, the move was aimed at accelerating the introduction of the weapon class into the military, he said.

“We will be bringing forward an uncrewed systems strategy in the coming months. It’s hugely important. It will help accelerate UK armed forces’ access to uncrewed systems and rapidly equipping them with innovative technology across air, sea and land,” Cartlidge said.

MoD officials said the strategy will likely be published around the end of the year.

It’s the latest in a rash of strategy documents recently produced by the MoD across land, air and sea domains.

Analysts believe the newest document will likely consider industrial and military aspects related drones, including the question of when the government should develop them or buy them off-the-shelf.

British Army Chief Gen. Patrick Sanders shed a little more light on the growing influence of the systems on MoD strategy in a speech later in the day.

“By the end of this year, we will form a new UAS group within a reorientated Joint Aviation Command,” he said. “This expanded JAC remit will bring deep expertise and the coherence that the new defense uncrewed strategy requires, and it’ll provide a focal point for industry around which we intend to develop the next generation of UAS platforms in even closer partnership.”

By coincidence , or maybe not, leading British defense companies BAE Systems and Qinetiq used the first day of the DSEI show to announce they had signed a framework agreement to look at collaborating in the drone and associated mission management systems sector.

Qinetiq also announced it was developing a low-cost, disposable, jet-powered drone called Jackdaw which could be available by around the middle of the decade.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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