WATCH: Taranis unmanned aircraft first flight footage

Taranis, the stealthy unmanned combat vehicle demonstrator, was filmed during its initial flight trials. It’s the most advanced aircraft ever built in the UK.

Named after the Celtic god of thunder, was billed by military chiefs as the most technologically advanced aircraft ever built in the UK.

The project, which has so far cost £185 million, exists to demonstrate the ability of unmanned aircraft to launch precision strikes in hostile territory while remaining undetected.

The prototype was understood to be flying at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera Testing Range in Southern Australia.

Philip Dunne, then minister for defence equipment, support and technology, said:

“This is the most advanced air system yet conceived, designed, and built in the UK and it is vitally important for the future both of UK air defence and the UK defence industry.

Taranis is providing vital insights that will help shape future capabilities for our armed forces in coming decades. Its advanced technology is testament to the UK’s world leading engineering skills that keep Britain at the cutting edge of defence.”

Air Vice Marshal Sue Gray, who is director of Combat Air at Defence Equipment and Support, said:

“We set out to build a world-class stealth unmanned air system, or remotely-piloted air system – lest we forget there is a man or a woman in the loop.”

The first flight of Taranis follows on from the maiden flight of the pan-European Neuron UCAV technology demonstrator on 1 December 2012 and extensive carrier-based testing of the Northrop Grumman X-47B in 2013.

Taranis is not intended to enter production, but is instead a technology demonstrator vehicle. According to the MoD evidence to Parliament, “It will provide the MoD with experimental evidence on the potential capabilities, helping to inform decisions on the future mix of manned and remotely piloted systems.”

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