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UK lifts lid on unmanned stealth aircraft

'Corax' surveillance vehicle poses for press

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The UK has proved that there's a little fight left in its military aerospace industry by unveiling the "Corax" unmanned stealth surveillance aircraft:

The Corax - Photo by BAE systems

According to the BBC, the BAE systems project looks a bit like "a cancelled US military spy plane called DarkStar" (judge for yourselves here), while Jane's International Defence Review reckons Corax "indicated a new direction in combat vehicles for the UK's armed forces".

The publication also notes that "the UK has terminated plans for a future manned combat aircraft and is working closely with the US on 'Project Churchill'," which focuses on the "the joint, airborne command and control of pilotless combat air vehicles from 2015 onwards".

The US, of course, already has Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk surveillance vehicle, while the company continues to work on the X-47B attack vehicle - part of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) programme designed to "to demonstrate the technical feasibility, military utility and operational value for a networked system of high performance, weaponized unmanned air vehicles to effectively and affordably prosecute 21st century combat missions".

Back in Blighty, meanwhile, details on the classified Corax are unsurprisingly sketchy, although Flight International does say the high-speed design was tested during 2004 and has "a shrouded, above-fuselage engine and...an extended wing with moving control surfaces".

The magazine adds: "BAE refers to the experimental design as 'a highly survivable, strategic UAV system' employing 'flexible and modular advanced flight-control systems'." ®

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