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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New British stealth plane


BAE (we'll give you a lot of camels if you buy our planes) systems have unveiled the prototype of their unmanned stealth plane the Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder. Technically it is an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle although it will be "flown" by someone on the ground rather than being some autonomous robot.

Interestingly, the plane's development only started in 2006 which just shows that it is a lot quicker for a country to produce something on it's own than go into some horrible joint Euro project (c.f. the Eurofighter Typhoon which took twenty years to develop so that many new technologies came along after development began and couldn't be incorporated in the design). Agent Triple P knows someone who was recruited to work on the UK's stealth programme some years ago and he was amazed to find that they were litereally working in some old shed at the back of an airfield somewhere. Not quite all Barnes Wallis type boffins with sliderules but close, apparently.

The £143 million test vehicle will explore the technologies needed for high speed reconnaissance and survellance. It will also have the ability to deliver both bombs and missiles to our enemies (various dodgy ragheads, the French and the Icelanders).

What isn't clear from the picture is how big it is. It would be very disappointing to find that it is eight feet across, for example. Anyway, it's real battle will be to survive the Strategic Defence and Security Review in October. £142 million on the prototype would equate to what exactly for a production vehicle?

Anyway, its our first stealth aircraft since...well, the Avro Vulcan whose delta shape gave it an unexpectedly low radar cross section.

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