The Ministry of Defence has unveiled its prototype unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV)…
Defence Minister Gerald Howarth said it was a “truly trailblazing project” and featured “the best of our nation’s advanced design and technology”. The aircraft is due to begin flight trials early next year.
Named after the Celtic god of thunder, Taranis is the first step in the development of unmanned strike aircraft, capable of penetrating enemy territory. Unmanned aircraft carrying weapons are already used in service, such as the MQ-1 Predator which carries Hellfire missiles, although these are only suitable for use where the airspace is under allied control.
“This is the next generation of combat aircraft and flight trials will begin next year,” Sqn Ldr Bruno Wood told BBC News. “It’s a technology demonstrator that could be used as a testbed which may form further potential solutions to the RAF,” he added.
The issue of “writing the pilot” out of the aircraft equation has long been a controversial topic, more so since the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) went into active service…
Peter Felstead, editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, told BBC News that the development of UAVs paralleled the development of the first manned aircraft during World War I.
“First they were used for reconnaissance, then they were armed for bombing and ground attack missions and they eventually became air-to-air combat craft,” he said.
“This is the first step for the UK. This isn’t an aircraft that will go into service, it’s a tech demo, but it will prove technologies, demonstrate capabilities and inform the direction we [the UK] are going in.”
They might have called it the Terminator, eh? We know how they turned out.
Wonder what DARPA is doing down this alley?