UK-built Taranis unmanned aircraft surpass all expectations
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