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Taranis Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

Taranis Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper could be the foremost menacing UAVs patrolling the skies these days, however they are close to face some stiff competition. The UK's Ministry of Defense announced its Taranis UAV design, lifting the veil off of a £124 million project that has been in development for three years and brought up a million and man hours.

Named after the Celtic god of Thunder (Thor is Nordic), Taranis is being designed as a stealth combat vehicle capable of long-range air strikes--the MOD even claims eventual cross-continent capabilities. Ground-based testing has been ongoing since early 2010, and will conclude with the vehicle's first flight. Flight trials are expected to start in 2011.

The technology demonstrator vehicle (TDV), the Taranis air vehicle is one of the world's largest unmanned air vehicles and is approximately the same size as the BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainer that is 11.35m long, 3.98m high and has a wingspan of 9.94m. On the same basis, the load of the Taranis is approximately 8t. For comparison the empty weight and take-off weight of the Hawk are 4.45t and 9.1t.

The Taranis air vehicle contains a delta-wing shape and tricycle-type landing gear. A computer-generated video shows the system taking off from a paved runway. The Taranis air vehicle is similar in shape, if not in scale, to BAE's Raven delta-wing demonstrator unmanned air vehicle.