Capewell Europe Details UK Large Boat Aerial Delivery Pitch

This article was originally written by Harry Lye in London and published on June 16, 2023 by Shephard Media. You can see the original article here.

Capewell sees its UMCADS as a cost-effective and future-proof solution for the UK’s Large Boat Aerial Delivery (LBAD) requirement.

Capewell Europe has positioned itself to meet the UK MoD’s A400M large boat aerial delivery requirement, offering the UK MoD a universal solution that could open doors to a swathe of capabilities.

The ministry is looking for a new Large Boat Aerial Delivery (LBAD) solution for its Airbus A400M aircraft as the RAF’s fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130Js has been sunsetted in favour of the newer aircraft.

In June 2023, Capewell Europe was invited to present its solution at High-Speed Boat Operations Forum (HSBO) in Gothenburg, Sweden. With attendance from over 35 countries, Capewell’s Universal Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System (UMCADS) was well received.

UMCADS offers a ‘universal’ solution that opens the door to airdropping vehicles, drones, missiles and other assets from the A400M, while enabling interoperability with allies and other aircraft operators.

A variant of the US Type V airdrop solution, UMCADS can be flat-packed to reduce the logistics footprint and uses NATO-standard components.

A key benefit of the solution is that it can be serviced and operated by the end user, meaning personnel do not have to rely on contractors for availability.

The solution can work on a range of aircraft, including the C-17, which the RAF also operates – something Capewell says could be useful for the service if it adopts the capability.

A major selling point of the airdropping solution is that it requires no changes be made to the internal configuration of the aircraft in use.

Capewell’s UMCADS requires no changes to an aircraft’s configuration.

In an operational scenario, the platform separates from the vehicle in mid-air. Minimal work on the water is needed to ready a boat for action.

Uncrewed vehicles such as USVs, or UUVs could be deployed from the air by an A400M and immediately start operating.

In a crewed scenario, parachutists can follow the boat out of an aircraft and quickly get on board and underway.

The separation capability is also key to future growth options, as the platform could be used to deploy missiles or drones from the back of an A400M – something that could give the UK MoD more flexibility regarding reconnaissance and lethality.

UMCADS is billed as a cost-effective solution to the UK MoD’s LBAD requirement, leveraging its UK location to reach European and Commonwealth markets.

In recent weeks, in partnership with ADS Inc, Capewell announced a contract to provide the aerial delivery platform for maritime recovery operations of the US Air National Guard, which the firm said ‘underpins’ the design approach for UMCADS.

Shephard first reported on the LBAD requirement in 2021.

The requirement is for a system capable of launching boats between 8.5-12m long, 2.8-3.5m in the beam, up to 2.2m in height, and weighing 3,800-12,000kg.

The requirement also assumes no modifications will need to be made to the UK fleet of A400Ms.

In documentation seen by Shephard at the time, the MoD sought an initial production run of about 25 platforms with a minimum ten-year in-service life.

The RFI noted that the platforms would support 40 annual drops.

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