UK-built Tara­nis un­manned air­craft sur­pass all ex­pec­ta­tions

SP's MAI - - UNMANNED -

The UK Min­istry of De­fence (MOD) and BAE Sys­tems have re­vealed that Tara­nis, the 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, named af­ter the Celtic god of thun­der, made its maiden flight at an undis­closed test range on Au­gust 10, 2013, un­der the com­mand of BAE Sys­tems’ test pi­lot Bob Fraser. The demon­stra­tor air­craft made a per­fect take-off, ro­ta­tion, ‘climb-out’ and land­ing on its 15 minute first flight. A num­ber of flights took place last year, of up to one hour in du­ra­tion and at a va­ri­ety of al­ti­tudes and speeds. The de­tails were re­vealed at a brief­ing held in Lon­don to­day.

The find­ings from the air­craft’s flight prove that the UK has de­vel- oped a sig­nif­i­cant lead in un­der­stand­ing un­manned air­craft which could strike with pre­ci­sion over a long range whilst re­main­ing un­de­tected. The tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances made through Tara­nis will also help the MOD and Royal Air Force make de­ci­sions on the fu­ture mix of manned and un­manned fast jet air­craft and how they will op­er­ate to­gether in a safe and ef­fec­tive man­ner for the UK’s de­fences.

Cost­ing £185 mil­lion and funded jointly by the MOD and UK in­dus­try, the Tara­nis demon­stra­tor air­craft was for­mally un­veiled in July 2010 but only a very limited num­ber of sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers have ever been given full ac­cess to the top se­cret air­craft. Ini­tial ‘power-up’ or ground test­ing com­menced later in 2010 at BAE Sys­tems’ mil­i­tary air­craft fac­tory in War­ton, Lan­cashire, fol­lowed by a com­pre­hen­sive and highly de­tailed pro­gramme of pre-first flight mile­stones in­clud­ing un­manned pi­lot train­ing, radar cross sec­tion mea­sure­ments, ground sta­tion sys­tem in­te­gra­tion and, in April 2013 taxi tri­als on the run­way at War­ton. SP

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