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Britain unveils new UCAV 'Taranis'

The Taranis unmanned combat aircraft prototype. A BAE photo

WARTON (BNS): Taking a leap forward in developing strategic unmanned aerial systems, Britain has unveiled the prototype of its futuristic autonomous combat aerial vehicle 'Taranis'.

The prototype aircraft which was unveiled by the UK Ministry of Defence on Monday will test the possibility of developing the first ever autonomous stealthy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) for Britain.

The new warfighter, named after the Celtic god of thunder, has been designed to take on long range targets, even in another continent.

The Taranis project, which is a part of the UK MoD's Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle (Experimental) [SUAV(E)] programme, is being jointly developed by BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, QinetiQ and GE Aviation.

The UK MoD had awarded a £124 million contract in 2006 to a team led by BAE Systems to design and build a demonstrator aircraft for the British armed forces. BAE takes the lead in the overall designing as well as providing stealth technology, flight testing and control equipment for the futuristic UCAV.

Once fully developed, the new long-range Taranis would be able deliver weapons even in another continent by flying a faster speed. The stealth fighter would also be able to carry out test deployment of a range of munitions over a number of targets, and also able to defend itself against manned and other unmanned enemy aircraft.

The Taranis prototype will provide the UK MoD with critical knowledge on the technical and manufacturing challenges and the potential capabilities of Unmanned Combat Air Systems, BAE said.

The new aircraft is scheduled to be flight tested in 2011.



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