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TARANIS UAV takes big step nearer reality


Warton, UK - The £124m Taranis unmanned air vehicle (UAV) technology demonstrator programme led by BAE Systems, has moved closer to reality.

The release of computer-aided design (CAD) models to the manufacturing team for the first machined parts allows the machine tools to be prepared and programmed in advance of the first metal for Taranis being cut later this month. These first parts include a centre fuselage frame and a major machining within the intake duct.

The release of the design models represents a significant transition from the design phase into the detailed design and manufacturing phase of the programme.

Paul Williams, Taranis Airframe Integration Manager, said: “The Taranis airframe is a significant step forward in terms of complexity and scale compared to previous UAV demonstrators. This has necessitated the use of a refined rapid engineering process that brings together the learning from earlier programmes such as Corax and Raven, combined with existing processes and techniques. All this has resulted in an airframe design that now forms the basis of the detail design phase.”

Led by BAE Systems, Taranis will be the largest UAV built in the UK, and as part of the MoD’s strategic unmanned air vehicle (experimental) (SUAV(E)) programme, the aircraft 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 GE Aviation Systems (formally Smiths Aerospace).

With the design of the autonomous systems, which are the “brains” of Taranis, finalised earlier this summer, Taranis remains on programme for assembly to start before the end of the year.

Ground testing is expected to take place in early 2009 with the first flight trials scheduled for 2010.


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