November 4, 2022 8.00 am This story is over 17 months old

Could robots be the future of RAF Coningsby’s Typhoon fleet?

The use of interactive exo-skeletons could be the way forward

By Local Democracy Reporter

RAF Coningsby took a glimpse into the future this week, as the home of the UK’s typhoon fleet explored how exo-skeletons and robots can support RAF aircraft.

BAE Systems, which services the Red Arrows jets for the RAF, has been looking into how fast jet support could be carried out in a smarter and more efficient way moving forward.

The ideas of transformative technology and greener, sustainable solutions have been discussed, and it is hopes that this will pave the way for reduced costs and improved availability for the Typhoon fighter jets – currently held at RAF Coningsby.

The Typhoon fleet can be found at RAF Coningsby. | Photo: BAE Systems

Among these trials were explorations of eco-skeletons, which would allow aircrew and maintenance teams to handle greater loads safely, as well as autonomous co-bots – free moving robots that work in tandem with users assisting training tasks.

Technologies including exo-skeletons and automated robots could be used in the future to reduce fatigue and the chance of injury among support crews, while also improving the speed of aircraft maintenance.

The exo-skeletons would assist maintenance teams with efficient management of the jets. | Photo: BAE Systems

Nick Sharples, Head of Technology Delivery, Support and Training for BAE Systems’ Air sector, said: “Working with our partners to trial new technologies and solutions for future fast jet support helps us explore new ways of delivering leading-edge capabilities and value for money to the RAF on the front line, whilst also reducing the environmental impact of our operations through synthetic training and investment in electric products.”

Discoveries of potential sustainable operations were also looked at, with a view towards delivering advanced synthetic training to pilots and air crew, helping the RAF meet its target of net zero by 2040.

The technology was trialled at a recent tech roadshow. | Photo: BAE Systems

These trials at RAF Coningsby form part of a wider Royal Air Force strategy to drive efficiency through the continued introduction of new technologies.

It will also see new partnerships developed across academia to contribute to the supply chain of jobs here in the United Kingdom.

Group Captain Daniel Penter, Director RAF ASTRA, said: “The pace by which technology advances is increasing all the time and it’s imperative that we explore with industry how best to harness this to enhance how we support the frontline.”

All part of the RAF’s plans to improve facilities at cheaper costs and with a reduced carbon footprint. | Photo: BAE Systems