The Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems have revealed that Taranis, the £185 million stealthy unmanned combat vehicle demonstrator and “the most advanced aircraft ever built by British engineers”, “surpassed all expectations” during its first flight trials last year.
Taranis (pictured), named after the Celtic god of thunder, made its maiden flight at an undisclosed test range last August, under the command of test pilot Bob Fraser. BAE said the demonstrator aircraft made a perfect take-off, rotation, ‘climb-out’ and landing on its 15 minute first flight. A number of other flights took place last year at a variety of altitudes and speeds. The details were revealed at a briefing held in London today.
The UK defence contractor said the Taranis demonstrator is the result of one-and-a-half-million man hours of work by the UK’s leading scientists, aerodynamicists and systems engineers from 250 UK companies.
The aircraft has been designed to demonstrate the UK’s ability to create an unmanned air system which, under the control of a human operator, is capable of undertaking sustained surveillance, marking targets, gathering intelligence, deterring adversaries and carrying out strikes in hostile territory.
The findings from the aircraft’s flight prove that the UK has developed a significant lead in understanding unmanned aircraft which could strike with precision over a long range while remaining undetected, said BAE. The technological advances made through Taranis will also help the UKMOD and Royal Air Force make decisions on the future mix of manned and unmanned fast jet aircraft.
About the size of the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft, BAE designed and built Taranis working alongside Rolls-Royce, GE Aviation (formerly Smiths Aerospace) and QinetiQ.
Copyright Ken Hurst 2014