Royal Navy Tests Drone Resupply


The British Navy says it will soon be routine for drones to resupply carriers at sea and it started that process in September. A STOL drone made by W Autonomous Systems landed on HMS Prince of Wales and then took off again back to the U.K. mainland. It was the first such flight for the Royal Navy, but it won’t be the last. “Operating autonomous drones like this will become the norm across future Royal Navy Carrier Strike Groups in our 50-year lifespan,” said Captain Richard Hewitt, the carrier’s CO.

The drone, which has a payload of 220 pounds, dropped off a symbolic payload of Navy memorabilia, but in the future it will carry all manner of supplies, freeing up helicopters for more important duties. The drone can fly autonomously for up to 12 hours and has a range of 620 miles. The Prince of Wales is one of the U.K.’s newest ships and is headed for the U.S. Eastern Seaboard for exercises with the U.S. Navy.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Nice idea. My only question is the cargo weight of 220 pounds. Realistically, that isn’t much to re-supply a carrier. They are floating cities! They will need a big hive of these drones to do the job.