BAE Systems’ drone test flights ‘a major success’

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Defence chiefs and BAE Systems have revealed that Taranis, the stealth-like unmanned plane, surpassed all expectations during its first flight trials last year.

The £185m plane, named after the Celtic god of thunder, made its maiden flight at an undisclosed test range last August.

Tested: The unmanned Taranis

Tested: The unmanned Taranis

It was under the remote command of BAE Systems’ test pilot Bob Fraser, it was revealed at a London press conference.

The demonstrator aircraft made a perfect take-off, rotation, “climb-out” and landing on its 15 minute first flight.

A number of flights took place last year, of up to one hour in duration and at a variety of altitudes and speeds.

The announcement comes days after an agreement between France and Britain to work together on a £120m “drone”project.

Initial ground testing commenced in 2010 at BAE Systems’ military aircraft factory in Warton, followed by a comprehensive and highly detailed programme of pre-first flight checks and training.

Last April it underwent taxi trials on the runway at Warton and made its maiden flight at a secret location .