Air war - past, present and future

BAE Systems Taranis Typhoon and Spitfire - three generations of combat aircraft
BAE Systems Taranis Typhoon and Spitfire - three generations of combat aircraft
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Three generations of combat aircraft line up on the runway showing the past present and future of aerial warfare.

BAE Systems released these images today as the Warton designed unmanned stealth aircraft Taranis successfully completed its second phase of flight testing.

The futuristic jet flew for the first time in full stealth mode making it virtually invisible to radar.

At a secret test base, engineers removed all external antennas and replaced them with “signature control variants” which cut any radar reflection and flew the aircraft.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said: “The success of these test flights is an important milestone for the Taranis project.

“We are gaining vital insights into the potential of unmanned aircraft and this knowledge will shape future capabilities and help reduce the risks faced by military personnel on the frontline.

“I am determined to continue investing in these world-leading projects to show us the future, today.”

The demonstrator aircraft for the £185m Taranis project was formally unveiled in July 2010.

Initial ‘power-up’ or ground testing commenced later in 2010 at BAE Systems’ Warton plant followed by a comprehensive programme of pre-first flight milestones including unmanned pilot training, radar cross section measurements, ground station system integration and, in April 2013 taxi trials on the runway at Warton.

Taranis is named after the Celtic god of war and demonstrates technology needed to develop pilotless warplanes of the future.