LONDON — The British company BAE Systems has acquired a local producer of heavy-lift drones as part of a wider effort to break into the unmanned systems market, the company announced Friday.

“Our acquisition of Malloy Aeronautics is part of our ongoing strategy to develop and invest in breakthrough technologies which augment our existing capabilities ,” Simon Barnes, group managing director of BAE’s air sector business, said in the news release.

The purchase, for which no price was given, follows a two-year partnership between the companies to develop the all-electric quadcopter T-650, with a maximum payload of 300 kilograms (661 pounds) and a top range of 30 kilometers (19 miles). The British government previously supplied the Ukrainian military with smaller versions of the quadcopter for logistics.

Other customers include the U.K. and U.S. militaries. Malloy’s American partner Survice Engineering is under contract to supply the U.S. Marine Corps with the Malloy-made TRV-150C drone for tactical resupply.

The T-650 is in the development phase and mainly targeted at providing unmanned logistics capabilities. But last year, the system showed it has the potential to become a weapons platform when a slightly smaller variant — a technology demonstrator known as the T-600 — carried and released an inert 200-kilogram Sting Ray torpedo during a NATO exercise.

It also has the potential to serve as a flying ambulance. Last year, BAE showed a concept casualty evacuation pod for the T-650 at the DSEI defense show in London.

BAE said its Malloy operation will remain in Berkshire, near London, and become an arm of its FalconWorks air sector research and development operation. Malloy employs about 80 people.

As part of BAE’s strategy to break into the unmanned sector, the company in 2021 acquired Prismatic, a British developer of solar-powered, high-altitude, long-endurance drones. And last year, BAE announced it was considering a partnership with U.K. defense contractor QinetiQ to collaborate on aerial drones and mission management systems. Those talks are still underway, according to a BAE official.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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