QinetiQ to play strategic role in United Kingdom Taranis UAV technology demonstrator program

By Courtney E. Howard

FARNBOROUGH, England - Computer experts at QinetiQ in Farnborough, England, will provide flight-critical software for the United Kingdom initiative to develop a world-class unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology demonstrator called Taranis.

Project Taranis is a partnership between the MOD and industry to apply cutting-edge technology, including stealth and intelligent autonomy, to the next generation of British UAVs. The demonstrator is expected to be about the size of a British Hawk jet.

The MOD awarded a €24 million (US$31.5 million) contract to a team led by BAE Systems, and includes QinetiQ, Roll Royce and Smiths Aerospace. The project has funding from the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense and industry.

QinetiQ’s responsibilities include the high-level reasoning software that will contribute to the vehicle’s autonomous capability, the provision of the communications subsystem and associated antennas and the flight safety subsystem.

“Taranis is an excellent opportunity to build on our previous significant research in autonomy and low observable systems and apply it in a practical UAV environment,” says Graeme Ferrero, managing director of defense technology for QinetiQ. “It is also the first major program in which QinetiQ has coinvested with other industry partners.”

The team will work alongside MOD military staff and scientists on this four-year project, part of the United Kingdom’s Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle (Experimental) program [SUAV(E)], and will develop and fly a vehicle, which will include fully integrated autonomous systems and low observable features.

Taranis will explore and demonstrate how emerging technologies and systems can deliver battle-winning capabilities for the United Kingdom armed forces. It will also provide the MOD with experimental evidence on the potential capabilities of this class of UAV. Ground testing of Taranis is expected in early 2009, with the first flight trials in 2010. For more information contact QinetiQ at www.qinetiq.com.


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