Under a contract awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems will be the industry lead and prime contractor of a joint £124 million project to develop a world-class UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle) Technology Demonstrator Programme called Taranis.
BAE Systems, together with Rolls-Royce, Smiths Aerospace and QinetiQ, will work alongside MoD military staff and scientists to develop and fly Taranis, named after the Celtic God of Thunder. The four-year Taranis project, part of the UK Government’s Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle (Experimental) Programme [SUAV(E)], will result in a UAV with fully integrated autonomous systems and low observable features.
About the size of a BAE Systems Hawk, Taranis will provide the MoD with experimental evidence on the potential capabilities of this class of UAV and help to inform decisions on the future mix of manned and unmanned fast jet aircraft.
Taranis is jointly funded by the UK MoD and UK industry, and will bring together a number of technologies, capabilities and systems to produce a technology demonstrator based around a fully autonomous intelligent system. Ground testing of Taranis is expected to take place in early 2009 with the first flight trials taking place in 2010.
In addition to the existing industry partners, the project will also engage a significant number of other UK suppliers who will provide the programme with supporting technology and components.
Mike Turner, Chief Executive of BAE Systems, said: “This project supports many of the key drivers outlined in the Defence Industrial Strategy – in particular the way in which we, as a nation, continue to develop a sustainable sovereign capability by supporting UK design and engineering skills. This is an important project in light of the way in which military operations are changing.”
Mark Kane, managing director of Autonomous Systems & Future Capability (Air) for BAE Systems, said: “Taranis will make use of at least 10 years of research and development into low observables, systems integration, control infrastructure and full autonomy. It follows the completion of risk reduction activities to ensure the mix of technologies, materials and systems used are robust enough.”
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