Authored By Dan Alex (Updated: 3/20/2016):
The Mantis program is British-led initiative and centered along the prospect of defining a reusable, long-range, deep-penetrating UAV combat-minded system. As such, the vehicle was specifically designed with high endurance and long range performance in mind along with a modular payload capability (including support for weapons delivery). As with other growing UAV programs, the Mantis intends to operate largely autonomously while relying on satellite communications for its self-positioning. user interaction will allow for overides but the Mantis will be independent in its navigation, landing and take-off procedures. While headed by BAe Systems, the program also includes major industry players such as GE Aviation, L3 Wescam and Rolls-Royce. Avionics includes the LS Wescam MX-20 series imaging system and the BAe Systems-supplied Imagery Collection and Exploitation (ICE) suite. Data collected during the Mantis program will assist in the future development of the joint British-French UAV initiative known as the "Telemos" (headlined by BAe Systems / Dassault).
The external profile of the Mantis is largely conventional and essentially mimics a manned aircraft though the domed front section houses operational systems instead of a cockpit. The fuselage is well-contoured for aerodynamic efficiency and includes low-set, straight wing appendages. The rear section of the fuselage is tapered and mounts a "T-style" tail unit. The Mantis is propelled by a pair of Rolls-Royce engines arranged in a "pusher" configuration and seated in individual nacelles along the fuselage spine just ahead of the tail unit. The undercarriage is wheeled in the traditional way and fully retractable. The wing assemblies are designed to support external munitions across six hardpoints.
Overall length of the Mantis prototype is 65 feet while the airframe sits empty at 2,200lbs with a listed maximum take-off weight of 19,800lbs. Power is served through 2 x Rolls-Royce M250B-17 series turboshaft engines developing 380 horsepower each. Currently, the Mantis showcases a top speed of 345 miles per hour with a cruise speed in the vicinity of 230 miles per hour and features a mission endurance time of up to 30 hours before requiring resupply.