A prototype unmanned combat aircraft of the future, Taranis, has been unveiled by the MOD at BAE Systems’ facilities in Warton, Lancs. Named after the Celtic god of thunder, the concept demonstrator will test the possibility of developing the first ever autonomous stealthy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) that would ultimately be capable of precisely striking targets at long range, even in another continent.
The Taranis project is a tremendous example of UK Industry and MOD working together and investing together to secure advancements in technology and capability to meet the anticipated future requirements of the armed forces. A Project Charter was signed between the MOD, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, QinetiQ and GE Aviation to work together to design, manufacture, test and fly an experimental 'mission representative' UAV system. Team Taranis partners have worked closely with the customer and Industry to develop and demonstrate new technologies on a flying demonstrator.
QinetiQ is responsible for several of the critical elements of the Taranis programme that draw on its core technologies, evaluation facilities and systems expertise. These include the high level reasoning software which will contribute to the vehicle's autonomous capability, enabling the airframe to perform its mission in an optimal fashion, while taking into account uncertainty and unplanned external events. QinetiQ’s provision and integration of the communications sub-system and associated antennas is equally important as this enables robust communications between the platform and the ground station without compromising its covert design specifications. And finally the test range flight safety sub-system provided by QinetiQ underpins the safety case for the aircraft during the test and evaluation phases of the project.
Recently QinetiQ has also provided input on the development of the stealth capabilities and coatings and, during the upcoming phases of the programme, will provide support to the stealth measurement team including during the flight trials.