UK — New Taranis combat aircraft thunders into view

A pro­to­type unmanned com­bat air­craft of the future, Tara­nis, has been unveiled by the MOD for the first time today.

The Taranis unmanned combat aircraft prototype
The Tara­nis unmanned com­bat air­craft pro­to­type
Source: BAE Sys­tems
Click to enlarge

Named after the Celtic god of thun­der, the con­cept demon­stra­tor will test the pos­si­bil­i­ty of devel­op­ing the first ever autonomous, stealth Unmanned Com­bat Air Vehi­cle (UCAV) that would ulti­mate­ly be capa­ble of pre­cise­ly strik­ing tar­gets at long range, even in anoth­er con­ti­nent.

Should such sys­tems enter into ser­vice, they will at all times be under the con­trol of high­ly trained mil­i­tary crews on the ground.

Speak­ing at the unveil­ing cer­e­mo­ny at BAE Sys­tems in Warton, Lan­cashire, Min­is­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Strat­e­gy Ger­ald Howarth said:

“Tara­nis is a tru­ly trail­blaz­ing project. The first of its kind in the UK, it reflects the best of our nation’s advanced design and tech­nol­o­gy skills and is a lead­ing pro­gramme on the glob­al stage.”

Rep­re­sent­ing the pin­na­cle of UK engi­neer­ing and aero­nau­ti­cal design, Tara­nis is an infor­mal part­ner­ship of the MOD and indus­try tal­ents includ­ing BAE Sys­tems, Rolls-Royce, Qine­tiQ and GE Avi­a­tion.

The Taranis unmanned combat aircraft prototype
The Tara­nis unmanned com­bat air­craft pro­to­type
Source: BAE Sys­tems
Click to enlarge

Speak­ing on behalf of the indus­try team, Nigel White­head, Group Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of BAE Sys­tems’ Pro­grammes and Sup­port busi­ness, said:

“Tara­nis has been three-and-a-half years in the mak­ing and is the prod­uct of more than a mil­lion man-hours.

“It rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in this country’s fast-jet capa­bil­i­ty. This tech­nol­o­gy is key to sus­tain­ing a strong indus­tri­al base and to main­tain the UK’s lead­ing posi­tion as a cen­tre for engi­neer­ing excel­lence and inno­va­tion.”

The Tara­nis pro­to­type will pro­vide the MOD with crit­i­cal knowl­edge on the tech­ni­cal and man­u­fac­tur­ing chal­lenges and the poten­tial capa­bil­i­ties of Unmanned Com­bat Air Sys­tems. Flight tri­als are due in 2011.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK