Billed as the most advanced aircraft yet built by the UK aerospace industry, the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS demonstrator has also been one of the most elusive. Security surrounding the stealthy, unmanned combat air vehicle technology demonstrator has been extremely tight, with access strictly controlled. However, the UK government finally cleared BAE to release some details of the project this week, following the announcement on January 31 by the UK and France that cooperation on the next stage of a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) has been agreed.
BAE Systems Taranis
China’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or Sharp Sword, made its first flight on November 21. The event took place at an unidentified flight-test site in southwest China after several months of ground testing. The first flight lasted approximately 20 minutes, and unofficial video footage was soon available on Chinese websites.
Flight trials of the BAE Systems Taranis UCAS technology demonstrator have started at the Woomera test range in South Australia. But neither the company nor its customer, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has made any announcement. The news emerged from a policy document on military UAS that the MoD submitted to the defense committee of the UK parliament.
Europe’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has flown. The Neuron technology demonstrator took off from the Dassault test base at Istres, France, at dawn on December 1. Dassault is the prime contractor, teamed with Alenia Aermacchi (Italy); EADS-CASA (Spain); Hellenic Aerospace Industries (Greece); Ruag (Switzerland); Saab (Sweden) and Thales (France).
EADS Cassidian reports positive results from a third flight-test campaign conducted recently from Goose Bay, Canada, with the second prototype Barracuda UAV. Five flights during June and July each lasted up to one hour and proved various new mission modes, including autonomous 4-D navigation and cooperative flying with a second UAV. Unlike the previous two campaigns in 2009 and 2010, the latest flights were funded entirely by the company.