BAE start Taranis assembly

BAE Systems has started assembly of the first key components of Taranis, the £124m unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).

A team led by BAE Systems, comprising Rolls-Royce, Qinetiq and GE Aviation, is developing the UK MoD Taranis Technology Demonstration Programme, which combines expertise on flight dynamics, autonomous systems and stealth capability.

Chris Allam, project director for Taranis at BAE Systems, said: ‘The start of assembly on Taranis is significant. It is the first time the UK has built an unmanned air vehicle on this scale with this level of capability. This first phase of assembly is scheduled to take us through to the fourth quarter of 2008 before we move in to final assembly when we equip and test the aircraft prior to ground trials at Warton during 2009. Alongside this, our colleagues at Rolls-Royce will also be working on engine bench testing to confirm the performance of the propulsion system.’

Many of the components, such as the engine intake duct, are now at the manufacturing stage. The duct is being manufactured using fibre placement technology within the special engineering composite facility (SECF) at BAE Systems at Samlesbury, Lancashire.

The first test flights of the Taranis are scheduled for 2010.