back to article Brit robojet ‘Taranis’ set for Oz test flight

Taranis, the British robojet unveiled in 2010, will reportedly fly in Australia during 2013. Taranis is designed to operate autonomously, but cannot attack without orders from a human. The UK Daily Telegraph reports with the craft will take to the skies in Australia sometime during the (presumably) northern spring. An MoD …


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    1. LarsG

      Re: Prison drone

      Sadly they export their dross back to the UK now, most living in the south of England.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Prison drone

        Some of us expat Poms agree with the sentiment that us migrants are a good thing - "As it puts up the average IQ of both countries".

        Beer, because I am about to have one, as it has cooled down to 'only' 93F.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Other test ranges could include...

    ...any of the "UFO hot spots" in far north Queensland. There is plenty of choice.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Just wondering...

    what it's going to attack in Australia.

    It's going to be a long flight to anywhere it needs to attack...

    1. That Awful Puppy

      Re: Just wondering...

      They don't really get along that well with Indonesia, which has a decent-ish air force. Of course there would never be an invasion, but an up-yours air raid isn't completely out of the question.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Just wondering...

        And there were rumours of an evil dictator with a big flaming eye and an army of ugly troops showing up on the big-ish island just to the east.

      2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: Just wondering...

        Indonesian air force?

        Their mantenance ys very poor.. also, they don't update their planes as they should.. and their pilots don't get enough hours.. therefore, it's a "paper tiger".. good for pounding sepratists etc, but not good enough for posing a real danger to aussies.

        Also, their toy carrier (spanish made) is mostly an expensive port barge..

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Just wondering...

          >Indonesian air force?......

          All sounds rather familiar. Perhaps we could outsource to them?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How will they use their extensive radar network to track it - if it is a "stealth" design?

    1. jaduncan


      ...that would presumably be the test.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Jindalee is an OTH "downward-looking" radar. That's why the location is likely.

      (while stealth coating materials reduce reflection, Jindalee tends to view from above, so the radar profile will be much larger)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jindalee

        Addendum to AC..

        Also the peculiar way that Jindalee works (by relection off upper atmosphere layers) means that most of it's "vision" is actually of the disturbances caused by objects moving. This is then resolved into known types of aircraft by serious computing power.

        On a *very* good day (calm upper atmosphere) it has been known to resolve a cessna over singapore. If conditions are reasonable and the computer can recognise the profile of disturbance, it is able to track "stealthed" aircraft. Of course not accurately enough for missile defense systems, but good enough to tell others where to look precisely.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Jindalee

        It's been rumoured for a long time that most "stealth" designs are perfectly visible to Jindalee (Which incidentally has enough range to watch aircraft landing at Singapore Airport).

        Testing in Oz may well be an attempt to mitigate this issue, but I suggest they don't park or fly it near the Ettamoga Pub

        1. Alan Newbury

          Re: Jindalee

          "but I suggest they don't park or fly it near the Ettamoga Pub"

          About time they changed that ute on the roof

    3. mathew42
      Black Helicopters

      The word is that the yanks were slightly peeved when their stealth planes were detected easily by Jindalee.

      1. Avatar of They
        Thumb Up


        so rapier can spot one and light it up for the brits, and the oz's have radar that can spot one coming.

        not really stealthy then, or at least only stealthy to second and third worlders.

        Still nice to see something the MoD has spent money on via BaE doing something useful, can they use out aircraft carriers... never mind.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Still nice to see something the MoD has spent money on via BaE doing something useful"

          And what would that be? Not only are BAe very late to the party (RQ170's have been operational with USAF since 2007), but the UK forces have already invested in US and Israeli kit. Morover, there's no obvious case for a stealth drone in either UK forces, or those military who are likely customers of BAe. I've no doubt that Taranis is a clever piece of kit, but the UK now doesn't have the basic military capability to undertake offensive operations without the Americans holding our hand. No aircraft carriers, no decent ground attack aircraft, dodgy ground armour and mobility kit. So where's the use of a stealth drone? In third world interventions that we might undertake alone (eg Siera Leone) there's no effective opposition, and in combined operations (eg Iraq, Libya, Serbia) we would (have, and do) rely on suppression of any air defences largely by US weapons. Either way the stealth element adds little benefit, and in joint operations we'd have access to the US kit.

          I'd sooooo like to say that we produce a world beating, well, anything. But a "me too" drone that won't be operational for a decade after the US had something similar isn't much to trumpet about (and it's probably stuffed with US restricted use technology). Considering that this was the country that built the Sopwith Camel, the Spitfire, the Lancaster, the Vulcan, the Victor, the Lightning, the Harrier, it seems a sad thing if Taranis is the best we can do.

        2. ian 22

          @Avatar of They

          "Stealthy to second and third worlders.".

          Stealthy enough for the Argies then. Rule Britannia!

      2. Anonymous Coward

        The Serbs managed that in 1999

        The word is that the yanks were slightly peeved when their stealth planes were detected easily by Jindalee.

        Serbian forces not only detected but also shot down an F-117 using 1961 vintage SAMs back in 1999. I bet they were more peeved about that.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Re: The Serbs managed that in 1999

          That may have had something to do with the stealth coating breaking down in the "high" humidity of the European continent, unlike the that of the Middle East (or the parts of the California desert where they were developed).

          An oversight which I think has been corrected at a modes additional cost (IE < $1B)

          It must have been quite a surprise to the crew that their "invisible" aircraft was not quite as invisible as they thought.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dodgy coating

            That may have had something to do with the stealth coating breaking down in the "high" humidity of the European continent

            The story going around at the time (which may be wrong/propaganda/misdirection) was that the Serbs used three very low rent radars. These were so bad that when they cranked them up to 11 all they got was lots of noise back except from the location of the 117. The three units were networked and the combined signals were processed. Basically, they just had to look for a hole in all the surrounding noise and fire their SAMs at it.

            If the story is true then it's an excellent hack.

  5. MrXavia

    Nice to see some British engineering at work! Something we might actually be able to build all on our home shores!!

    And of course, that is one nice looking bird!

    1. Fibbles

      You say nice, I say Cylon

      I keep expecting the red bit at the front to have a light pulse that moves from side to side.

  6. stragen001
    Black Helicopters


    The film Stealth anyone. I for one welcome our new robotic avian overlord...

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: stealth....

      Surprised the RIAA didn't shoot that one down for downloading every song from the internet!

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    A BAe aricraft project barely 3 years overdue

    Which is very impressive by their standards.

  8. RainForestGuppy

    Looks suitably evil

    I hope who programs it ensures that the response any command is "By your Command" in a mechanical tone.

    I welcome our new Cylon overlords.

  9. Jack Project

    Hands up if you saw "Taranis" and thought of the Gallente Interceptor.

    1. Grimster

      Yes, yes me!

    2. 4.1.3_U1


      'Hands up if you saw "Taranis" and thought of the Gallente Interceptor.'

      No, I thought Tardis.

  10. Malcom Ryder 1

    Only 125 million pounds? That like 200 million dollars to build a plane. How can they do it so cheap?seriously airplanes are multi billion dollar projects in the US.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "How can they do it so cheap?"

      On previous evidence (Nimrod AEW3, Nimrod MRA4, Typhoon) they don't do it cheap. It's just that the original estimates are wildly optimistic, and due to poor management there's no cost control, with the result that the costs rise and rise after the government is committed. Often to the point that the programme is stopped without delivering anything, or where it would have been cheaper and more effective to buy foreign made kit.

      That's why Nimord MRA4 ended up costing £3bn for something that was scrapped without even seeing active service. Nimrod AEW3 likewise cost a billion quid (around £2bn at current prices), and never saw service. Typhoon is now 75% over original cost estimates, representing an incremental £10bn cost to the tax payer.

  11. James 36


    "Taranis is designed to operate autonomously, but cannot attack without orders from a human"

    so it is clever enough tp know the order has come from a human ?

    and clever enough to know it was the right human ?

    thought not

  12. Arachnoid

    So the Australians get to live the Skynet experience first and once the Terminators take over the early warning system theres no taking them out.........

    .[Dads army] We`re doomed I tell you,DOOMED! [/Dads army].

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Dont worry...

      If we Aussies can survive the snakes, crocs, spiders, jelly fish, sharks, drop bears and everything else in Australia thats constantly trying to kill us, a few pesky Terminators wont stand a chance!

  13. DS 1


    The capacity to deliver a viable aircraft is a good one. The Lightning had a cut off and drought in its development because the UK gov decided the future was unmanned aircraft and rockets. Some 50 years later and here we are.

    The only people who can run drones are people who have complete air control. Using these toys against a real airforce will end badly. But in that context, its use against current enemies must be cheaper and possibly a better economy that more expensive manned flight. And if you lose one, its not as bad as handing the taliban a pilot.

    The big hole in strategy here is the Pakistani's are not really our friends. And their F16 pilots are actually useful. On the day the decide enough is enough, the singular use of drones will close out. Stark choices will be made and it won't be drones in the answer.

    1. spider from mars

      Re: Hmm

      according to what I've read, Taranis is not designed for ground attack but for air superiority. I'm not qualified to know how well that works out, but it sounds like a whole different kettle of fish.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      I suspect the interesting drone stuff is not the stuff we're allowed to see. Take your point about real combat aircraft having superiority over drones. That's true when the drones are reconnaissance, comms, or slow ground attack model aircrafty things. But in principle, a drone (not needing a meat sack and attendant life support) can be lighter, fly higher, have greater endurance, pull tighter turns, and a multltude of other things.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Hmm

        I'm not sure that air superior craft are always going to win. If you count in their flight times (burning fuel for combat) and pilot uptime, versus a large amount of drones it could change the odds, especially if you think as well that while the pilots may be in superior combat craft, they have a limited amount of ammo.

        If the other side is using drones that may not be as accurate but even the odds by having so many of them aiming at each aircraft it becomes a case of when rather than if it could mean that a shitload of cheap(er) drones versus superior combat aircraft may not necessarily be a bad tactic.

        Course this would be assuming a symmetrical warfare scenario I guess since you'd have to manufacture a lot of drones.

    3. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Hmm

      Stark choices will be made and it won't be drones in the answer.

      Extra points for the Iron Man reference.

  14. YARR

    If they start testing now....

    ... they'll be able to catch some good thermals.

  15. Potemkine Silver badge


    And they are only a few months late on nEURO.

    Not bad for a US poodle...

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