This spring, high above the Australian outback, the UK’s new stealth bomber will take its first test flight. Named for the Celtic god of thunder, the Taranis stealth drone is expected to replace the Tornado GR4 bomber as the RAF’s frontline aircraft.
While the Predator and Reaper drones have become staples of the American and British arsenal, the Taranis is a bird of a different feather. Covered in a next generation stealth coating, the Taranis will be nearly invisible to enemy radar, and even if it were detected, its Rolls-Royce Adour 951 engine would spirit it away at supersonic speeds.
While formidable, the Taranis will be unable to carry out attacks on its own, thanks to the warnings of several decades worth of science fiction. According to the Telegraph, “There are concerns, however, that as drones are made more autonomous, they will pose more of a risk if they go out of control and leaving computers to make life or death decisions is highly controversial.”
The Telegraph continues, "Taranis, however, will still rely on instructions from a central command centre before attacking targets…Once identified, the operators will send instructions to Taranis to attack the targets before performing a flying past to confirm the damage and then landing safely.”
Most of the Taranis’s technical specs are still classified, but what we do know is that the £125 million bomber will likely be the first of many drones in Her Majesty’s service. Assuming SkyNet doesn’t get us before that comes to pass.
Images Courtesy of The Telegraph and Wikipedia