Britain to have unmanned stealth jet

Britain will soon have an unmanned stealth jet which won`t be detected by enemy`s radar.

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2010, 16:20 PM IST

London: Britain will soon have an unmanned stealth jet which can carry weapons and hit targets in another continent without being detected by enemy`s radar.

British defence firm BAE Systems has unveiled the design of its 143-million-pound aircraft Taranis that can travel at the speed of a fighter jet and cover distances between continents.

Almost invisible to ground radar, the plane is built to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on enemy territory using on board sensors.

Named after the Celtic god of thunder, Taranis is about the size of a Hawk jet and is equipped with an "autonomous" intelligence system, Daily Mail reported.

Unlike other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as drones which are controlled by pilots from remote locations, Taranis can be controlled from anywhere in the world with satellite communication system.

It has been designed to carry a cache of weapons - including bombs and missiles -, giving it a potential long-range strike capability. Taranis will also be able to defend itself against manned and other unmanned enemy aircraft.

Test flights for Taranis plane are due to start in 2011.

The plane will test the possibility of developing the first ever Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) that would ultimately be capable of precisely striking targets even in another continent.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony at BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire, Minister for International Security Strategy Gerald Howarth said: "Taranis is a truly trailblazing project.

"The first of its kind in the UK, it reflects the best of our nation`s advanced design and technology skills and is a leading programme on the global stage."
Taranis is an informal partnership between the British defence ministry and engineering firms including BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, QinetiQ and GE Aviation. Rolls Royce will focus on the next generation propulsion system for the Taranis demonstrator.

"Taranis has been three and a half years in the making and is the product of more than a million man-hours," said Nigel Whitehead, Group managing director of BAE Systems` Programmes and Support business.
"It represents a significant step forward in this country`s fast-jet capability. This technology is key to sustaining a strong industrial base and to maintain the UK`s leading position as a centre for engineering excellence and innovation."

IANS