WARTON, UK --- The cutting of first metal for the UK's 124m Taranis UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle) technology demonstrator programme means that the BAE Systems led team remains well on track for first flight in 2010.
In addition to the physical manufacture of the Taranis airframe now being underway, the design of the autonomous systems have also been finalised.
Taranis, at about the size of a BAE Systems Hawk, will be the largest UAV yet built in the UK, and as part of the UK MoD's Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle (Experiment) (SUAV(E)) programme will explore and demonstrate how emerging technologies and systems can deliver battle-winning capabilities for the UK armed forces. BAE Systems is the industry lead and prime contractor with other industry partners comprising QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce and the systems division of GE Aviation (formally Smiths Aerospace).
Chris Allam, BAE Systems' Taranis project director, said: "The brains of Taranis are designed and coherent. What we have designed is a system that can autonomously control the aircraft to taxi, take off, and navigate its way to a search area while reacting to any threats or other events. It will then route its way around the search area in whichever way it wants to, locate the target, and then use its sensor system to transmit a series of images and views back to the operator to confirm it is the target to be attacked. Then, once it has been authorised to do so, it autonomously attacks that target, routes its way back home, lands and taxies back.
The initial concept for Taranis was built on the BAE Systems-funded Raven programme and many other technology de-risking activities undertaken under both industry and MOD funding. Raven demonstrated, in flight, an autonomous system using a configuration similar to the one proposed for Taranis. BAE Systems was appointed industry lead and prime contractor for the Taranis technology demonstration programme under a contract awarded by the UK MOD in December 2006.
BAE Systems is the premier global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 96,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded 15 billion (US $27 billion) in 2006 on a pro forma basis, assuming BAE Systems had owned Armor Holdings Inc for the whole of 2006.
BAE Systems Led UCAV Programme Breaks New Ground