JERUSALEM — The U.K. has awarded a contract to Elbit Systems to supply the British Army with Magni-X drones, the company announced Thursday.
The micro-unmanned aerial system will be provided to the Defence Ministry under a deal with the subordinate Defence Equipment and Support agency’s Future Capability Group. The contract is part of British efforts to more widely incorporate drones within the Army’s Human Machine Teaming project.
The U.K. branch of the Israeli company is to deliver the drones by mid-2023. Elbit did not specify the contract value.
“As part of the contract, Elbit Systems UK will deliver the service-ready Magni-X systems to the British Army with a contracted option to deliver many further systems. The Magni-X that will be delivered will carry a variety of payloads, including Electro-Optical and Infrared gimballed cameras, giving the users extensive long-range reconnaissance capabilities,” the announcement read.
The Magni-X quadcopter is a vertical-takeoff-and-landing system. Its manufacturer describes it as “a proven and in-service backpack-portable micro-UAS designed to enhance Short Range Reconnaissance and support combat and intelligence operations for up to 60 minutes at a time.”
The Future Capability Group previously selected Elbit Systems UK to deliver autonomous UAS swarming capabilities as part of the Army’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems project, the company announced in March. That selection involved five swarms of six systems, each using Elbit’s Torch-X robotics and authomous system, an open-architecture technology.
Magni was first launched in 2019 as a fully autonomous drone designed to enhance situational awareness. At the time Elbit said it weighed 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) and could be launched from vehicles. The company also said it could carry up to 350 grams in payload and has a range of up to 3 kilometers (1.86 miles), and that it has a maximum operational altitude of 4,000 feet and 30 minutes of endurance.
It appears the company enhanced the range and endurance, among other features, for the Magni-X version. The system has “swarming capabilities” when used as part of Elbit’s Legion-X system, according to the company, making it a “force multiplier for soldiers on the ground.”
It is one of several small drones made by Elbit, including the 10-kilogram Thor and 5-kilogram Nox. The Magni system was previously supplied to an unnamed Latin American country, Elbit said in October.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.