The UK Ministry of Defence has been more than a touch conservative when it comes to discussing operations with its unmanned/remotely piloted air systems for a considerable time, in no small part due to widespread negative reporting about the use of dreaded “drones” from the general media.
Main Building’s reticence has mostly surrounded the Royal Air Force’s armed Reapers, but also the Taranis unmanned combat air system demonstrator, which has been developed by a team led by BAE Systems. I’ve been asking regularly for the last several months (most recently two days ago) when it was going to fly, and every time was met with a swift no comment.
So I was pretty surprised to look through the MoD’s written response to a parliamentary defence committee inquiry into the use of RPAS, published this morning. “Taranis ground tests commenced in 2010 and flight trials took place in 2013″, this reveals.
As you can read in my news article about the event, further details have not been released, and BAE (company-sourced archive image above) says it’s still not in a position to comment. In fact, the official line extracted from the MoD itself was that, while “flight trials are ongoing”, they won’t formally confirm that Taranis has actually been flown yet. All in all, it was a bit like trying to meet with Major Major in Catch 22.
If anyone out there knows for certain, feel free to share, eh? I’ll let you know any more I can about the programme once people start to talk properly.