An unmanned plane capable of supersonic flight will undergo flight tests to check whether it can be allowed to join the ranks of British defence aircraft.
The ‘Taranis’ stealth combat drone was originally unveiled in 2010 and has already completed a series of tests of its propulsion system and low observable platform, but must now undergo flight trials in 2013.
“The progress being made on the programme, and the learning we are taking from it, is very positive,” said Future Combat Air Systems director, Tom Fillingham, of the previous round of testing. “The drive now to getting Taranis in the air clearly shows the confidence industry and the UK’s MOD has in the UK’s ability to develop world-leading unmanned combat aircraft technologies and capabilities.”
Taranis, named for the Celtic god of thunder, will fly largely automatically, only seeking human intervention or input when attacking targets. From the BAE Systems description of Taranis these targets are intended to include those at very long range – potentially even in other continents.
“I think that the Taranis programme will be used to inform the UK MoD thinking, regarding the make up for the future force mix,” said BAE Systems group managing director of programmes, Nigel Whitehead as reported by the Telegraph. “I anticipate that the UK will choose to have a mix of manned and unmanned front-line aircraft.”
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February 5, 2013 By 236 Comments