The all-British Taranis UCAV demonstrator has flown in fully stealth mode during a second phase of flight testing, BAE Systems revealed at the Farnborough Airshow this week. The flights took place last winter from Woomera, South Australia, at a location that the company is still not allowed to acknowledge by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). “The overall achievements and objectives of the Taranis program remain highly classified,” Chris Garside, engineering director BAE Systems told a media briefing.
Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into Rolls-Royce military deals. The investigation began just a day before the announcement of forthcoming elections and the beginning of the “model code of conduct” that disallows announcement of new projects. The probe follows a voluntary disclosure last December by Rolls-Royce to its partner Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) that it had used a consultant, Singapore-based Aashmore, for sales and logistics support in its business in the energy sector.
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.
Honeywell has been asked to quote for the supply of 270 F125IN turbofan engines to replace the twin Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 821s on India’s 125-strong fleet of Jaguar strike aircraft. The F125IN is 600 pounds lighter than the Adour and is expected to enable 25-percent-shorter hot-and-high takeoffs. India’s Jaguars have become overweight and underpowered as a result of avionics and systems upgrades.
The Neuron UCAV demonstrator was officially unveiled last week inside a hangar at Istres airbase in southern France to representatives of the six governments funding the €400 million ($520.4 million) effort. France, Italy and Sweden each produced UCAV-like flying prototypes before joining Greece, Switzerland and Spain on the Neuron project in 2006.
Dassault released photographs of the Neuron UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle) demonstrator in final assembly at Istres, France, and confirmed that the six-nation collaborative program is on schedule. All subassemblies have been delivered, including the low-observable parts of the structure coming from Dassault’s Argenteuil and Biarritz factories.
Rolls-Royce has signed a jointly funded research and technology contract with the UK ministry of defense.
One of the biggest problems for those designing the next generation of unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs) is how to define, choose and incorporate a powerplant. Rolls-Royce believes it has the answer in a new type of engine system that has a much hotter core and provides not only power to the airframe, but also manages the entire power requirement of the UCAV. However, it doesn’t have the money for the program–at least, not yet.
BAE Systems hopes that up to three important UK contracts will be confirmed when British defense minister Des Browne visits the show tomorrow. Production deals for the Royal Air Force (RAF) Nimrod MRA.4 maritime patrol aircraft and the Hawk Mk128 Advanced Jet Trainer are overdue. BAE is also seeking government funds for a British unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstration program that it would lead.