UK unveils next-gen unmanned combat jet prototype

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London, July 13 (ANI): The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has unveiled a prototype of its first unmanned combat aircraft, also called 'Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle' (UCAV).

According to the BBC, the Taranis is known to be a conceptual design of a quite wide range of the striker planes, which have been taking upon nearly 3 million hours of the human being to produce as the final product.

Defence Minister Gerald Howarth recently said describing it as a truly trailblazing project till now.

"It features the best of our nation's advanced design and technology," he said.

The aircraft is due to begin flight trials early next year.

Named after the Celtic god of thunder, Taranis is the first step in the development of unmanned strike aircraft, capable of penetrating enemy territory.

Unmanned aircraft carrying weapons are already used in service, such as the MQ-1 Predator which carries Hellfire missiles, although these are only suitable for use where the airspace is under allied control.

"This is the next generation of combat aircraft and flight trials will begin next year, it's a technology demonstrator that could be used as a testbed which may form further potential solutions to the RAF," Squadron Leader Bruno Wood, media ops officer for 83 Expeditionary Air Group said.

According to a report, the issue of "writing the pilot" out of the aircraft equation has long been a controversial topic, more so since the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) went into active service.

It is accepted that the most vulnerable part of a plane is the pilot. While the airframe is capable of pulling multiple Gs - the gravitational force exerted on a body when standing on the Earth at sea level - the maxim safe level for a pilot, even when wearing a protective G-suit, is 8 or 9, above which they will lose consciousness.

Many anti-aircraft missiles have also been designed to explode near the cockpit, showering the vulnerable pilot with high-speed shrapnel that can cause death or injury.

Peter Felstead, the editor of Jane's Defence Weekly said that the development of UAVs paralleled the development of the first manned aircraft during World War I.

"This is the first step for the UK. This isn't an aircraft that will go into service, it's a tech demo, but it will prove technologies, demonstrate capabilities and inform the direction we are going in," he said.

However, Felstead stressed that while we would see greater development of ground attack UAVs, there would always be the need for a pilot with a "Mk I eyeball" when it came to air-to-air combat.

"If you have, say, an airliner that is reportedly hijacked, you are going to need that human factor to evaluate just what's going on with the plane, what he can see through the windows and everything else. That's not something, for now, that can be done remotely," he added.

Meanwhile, the MoD also stressed that all weaponised UAVs were under human control. (ANI)

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