These are the first images of UK’s classified unmanned stealth “superdrone”

Feb 05 2014 - 10 Comments

Although the footage was shot in August 2013, today BAE Systems released it for the first time.

Taranis“, the technological demonstrator of UK’s stealthy unmanned combat vehicle made its first flight on Aug. 10, 2013. Where the maiden sortie took place remains a secret.

The aircraft flew at the old British Nuclear test range at Woomera, Australia.

The only thing we know is that the “superdrone” flew under the command of BAE Systems’ test pilot Bob Fraser and “made a perfect take off, rotation, ‘climb out’ and landing.”

Since then, a number of other test flights have taken place in much secrecy.

“Taranis” is an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), described as “the most advanced aircraft ever built by British engineers”.

It’s a semi-autonomous pilotless system that will feature an intercontinental range and will be able to carry a wide variety of weapons, including PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) and air-to-air missiles.

The Royal Air Force already operates a fleet of Reaper drones from RAF Waddington airbase.

Image credit: BAE Systems

 

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  • Interesting shapes, control surfaces…and for a second there in the video I wondered about thrust vectoring but it was probably just a trick of the light..I thought I saw the exhaust nozzle change its orientation slightly. It looks really tightly packaged sensor wise..probably a phased array radar antenna in there somewhere..and a nice large Sattelite comms dish. It would have been interesting to be scanning the spectrum around the time of the test to see how much of the data and telemetry links were available. Looks slippery..up high and out of sight you won’t hear it..and it will be hard to aquire with some bands of radar. Nice it will put the jet jockeys out of a job once they learn how to swarm..or as a force multiplier on a raid. Task it with WILD WEASEL missions…send a fast mover in to make them light up the radar and the drone brings the noise…Nice.

  • Ian Rowe

    Watch out for this one Mr. Key!

  • Peter La Franchi

    Lovely aerial footage of the inner Woomera test range in outback South Australia. One of scenes even includes a brief glimpse of the salt late upon which the UK test launched its Blue Streak missiles back in the 1960s. The footage does give rise to one question whoever, what is the chase plane? Its silhouette appears in the final landing sequence as a shadow above the landing UCAV demonstrator, and is not an Australian military aircraft, meaning the deployed team brought their own chase aircraft with them.

    • I just like that the british have a chance to test their drone in a range the size of their country…

      I am given to understand it is not unusual for contractors to bring their own hardware like chase planes at woomera.

    • Guy

      the chase plane looks like a Alpha jet beloning to Qinetiq or one of the contractor A-4s that are used for aggressor training

  • James Windsor

    I love the look of this beastie.

  • Juanma Baiutti

    Any idea about the chase plane?
    Shadow can be seen in the lasts seconds of the video.

    • Pooter Bilbo

      Looks like a eurofighter to me

  • Peter_Ek

    The shadow of the chase plane looks like a Typhoon to me.

  • Dude-O-Reason

    What’s crazy is seeing these drones and remembering back as a kid, 30+ years ago, reading a book about military aviation and seeing an artist’s illustration of an aerial battle composed of sleek, flying wing drones. The author wrote about these “unmanned jets” being the way wars would be fought in the future. It sounded so science fiction. And yet, here we are.