Meet Taranis, a master of stealth and quite possibly, the most advanced unmanned combat aerial vehicle under development at present. Named after the Celtic god of thunder, it is currently being built by engineers at Britain-based defense, security and aerospace company, called BAE Systems. While not much is actually known about this high-tech drone, one of its most notable features is the ability to reach speeds of up to 700 mph, rendering it undetectable to standard radar technology.
The result of more than 1.5 million hours of work, an investment of up to $303.3 million and a collaboration between BAE, Rolls-Royce QinetiQ, GE Aviation Systems and the UK Ministry of Defence, the Taranis recently completed successful flight tests over Australia. Measuring around 39-feet in length with a wingspan of about 32-feet, it is nearly the size of a regular school bus. Although primarly controlled remotely by a human operator, this flying robot can function autonomously as well. Central to the design is its capability to attain extremely high speeds of over 700 mph, thereby attaining very low radar profile. This enables it to avoid detection almost entirely, expect for the sound of its sonic boom.
Under development since 2007, the Taranis project has been staunchly guarded, by BAE, over the years. According to the developers, it is a technology demonstrator; basically something that is used to test the efficacy of future aircraft technologies. This combat drone is capable of collecting information, conducting surveillance, locating targets, deterring enemies and even, carrying out air strikes. Designed chiefly for use during intercontinental military missions, it will likely be equipped with a wide variety of weaponry, to perpetrate both aerial and ground-based attacks.
One of the major features of the Taranis is its autonomy, thanks to which it can independently aim and fire at targets, once it has received permission from a human operator. While it would definitely be a step towards making modern warfare more precise, some argue that providing autonomous and semi-autonomous robots with the power of making such decisions, especially with regard to firing on enemy territories, is in itself quite dangerous.
At present, it is believed that a version of the Taranis will become a part of the UK military, no later than 2030.
Via: Tech Insider