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Taranis is an unmanned combat aircraft system advanced technology demonstrator programme

About Taranis

Taranis first flight video footage


Named after the Celtic god of thunder, the Taranis concept aircraft represents the pinnacle of UK engineering and aeronautical design.

The Taranis demonstrator is the result of one-and-a-half-million man hours of work by the UK’s leading scientists, aerodynamicists and systems engineers from 250 UK companies.

Controlled by a human operator

Bob Fraser, Commander for Taranis first flight

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The aircraft was designed to demonstrate the UK’s ability to create an unmanned air system which, under the control of a human operator, is capable of undertaking sustained surveillance, marking targets, gathering intelligence, deterring adversaries and carrying out strikes in hostile territory.

Technological advances

Taranis in flight

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The findings from the aircraft’s test flights show that the UK has developed a significant lead in understanding unmanned aircraft which could strike with precision over a long range whilst remaining undetected.

The technological advances made through Taranis will also help the UKMOD and Royal Air Force make decisions on the future mix of manned and unmanned fast jet aircraft and how they will operate together in a safe and effective manner for the UK’s defences.

The story so far

Taranis during trials at Warton

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Costing £185 million and funded jointly by the UK MOD and UK industry, the Taranis demonstrator aircraft was formally unveiled in July 2010.

Initial ‘power-up’ or ground testing commenced later in 2010 at BAE Systems’ military aircraft factory in Warton, Lancashire followed by a comprehensive and highly detailed programme of pre-first flight milestones. These included unmanned pilot training, radar cross section measurements, ground station system integration and, in April 2013 taxi trials on the runway at Warton.


The aircraft and its ground station were then transported from Warton to the test-range before being re-assembled and undergoing systems and diagnostics checks. Taranis then made a number of high speed taxi tests in July before its maiden flight in August 2013 under the command of BAE Systems’ test pilot Bob Fraser.


Team Taranis

Team Taranis logo

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About the size of a BAE Systems Hawk aircraft - Taranis has been designed and built by BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, the Systems division of GE Aviation (formerly Smiths Aerospace) and QinetiQ working alongside UK MOD military staff and scientists. In addition to prime contracting the project, BAE Systems led on many elements of the Taranis technology demonstrator, including the low observability, systems integration, control infrastructure and full autonomy elements (in partnership with QinetiQ).

In addition to the existing industry partners, the project also works with a significant number of other UK suppliers who provide supporting technology and components.


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First flight gallery

  • Neil Dawson, Pilot for Taranis first flight
  • Mr Philip Dunne MP, Minister for Defence Equipment Support & Technology beside Taranis
  • Taranis taxiing at Warton, Lancashire
  • Taranis, Taxiing at BAE Systems, Warton, Lanacashire
  • Taranis in testing at BAE Systems Warton, Lancashire
  • Taranis in flight
  • Taranis in flight
  • Bob Fraser, Commander for Taranis first flight
  • Taranis in flight
  • Taranis during trials at Warton

News release: first flight

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