It's been 30 months since Taranis, the UK's autonomous stealth drone, featured on the pages of Gizmag when a prototype of the aircraft was unveiled. According to a report in the UK's Telegraph last Sunday, the unmanned combat aircraft is set to undergo flight testing later this year.
The report includes a number of new details about the Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator, the result of a development program by BAE Systems for the Ministry of Defence to develop a bomber that can autonomously evade threats and identify targets. Human control will only be necessary to authorize attacks.
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The Telegraph reports that in addition to the flattened form factor reminiscent of a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, stealth capability will be enhanced by a "highly secretive coating" that helps radar evasion.
Unlike current military drones such as the Reaper and Predator, which have respective top speeds of around 300 mph (483 km/h) and 135 mph (217 km/h), Taranis, powered by a Rolls-Royce Adour 951 engine, will be capable of supersonic speeds, though its maximum speed is classified.
According to The Telegraph Taranis is 37 ft (11.3 m) long with a 32-ft (9.8-m) wingspan and will pack 6,500 lbs of thrust. Its maximum altitude is also classified.
During the test flight Taranis will run a full mission program to seek out targets, during which it will be exposed to unexpected threats in order to test its evasive capabilities.
The demonstrator has reportedly cost £125 million (US$ 200 million) to build. The news follows the recent maiden flight of the similar nEUROn UCAV demonstrator, the fruits of a collaboration between six European countries.
Source: The TelegraphView gallery - 3 images