The UK MoD has released some details about the first flight of the BAE Systems Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle concept demonstrator last year.
After several months of unconfirmed rumours, the MoD confirmed on February 4 that the aircraft made its first 15-minute flight on August 10 2013 from an “undisclosed” test facility, and added that the aircraft then made “a number of flights” up to one hour duration “at a variety of altitudes and speeds.”
The facility is most likely the ADF’s test range at Woomera in South Australia – footage from a video released by the MoD shows ‘outback’ like terrain under the flying aircraft and a runway alignment which corresponds to that of Woomera. BAE has previously tested its Herti and Mantis unmanned systems at Woomera due to an abundance of airspace, its remoteness, and benign weather patterns.
“The first flight of Taranis represents a major landmark for UK aviation,” Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director of BAE Systems said in the statement. “The demonstrator is the most advanced air system ever conceived, designed and built in the UK. It truly represents an evolution of everything that has come before it. This milestone confirms the UK’s leading position as a centre for engineering excellence and innovation.”
The Taranis demonstrator has been jointly funded by the MoD and BAE to the tune of £185m (A$336m), and is designed to demonstrate a system capable of “undertaking sustained surveillance, marking targets, gathering intelligence, deterring adversaries and carrying out strikes in hostile territory.”
Video footage of the flight tests at Woomera can be viewed here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_btNPNps_gc