Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/09/uk_claims_significant_lead_in_drones_after_taranis_test_flight/

UK claims 'significant lead' in drones after Taranis test flight

Supersonic Brit stealth drone did the business in 2013 tests

By Simon Sharwood

Posted in Science, 9th February 2014 23:58 GMT

Ancient Greek chap Aeschylus is reported to have said, way back in the 400s BC, that “In war, truth is the first casualty.”

What then to make of news that Britain's controversial Taranis apparently made a test flight … in August 2013.

BAE Systems kindly let the world know of the test flight late last week, a mere six months after the fact.

They're telling us everything went swimmingly and that a Taranis prototype piloted from the ground did so well “ that the UK has developed a significant lead in understanding unmanned aircraft which could strike with precision over a long range whilst remaining undetected.”

To be a little less paranoid, it can take rather a while to crunch data that enables an assertion like that above.

As the video below shows, Taranis is an impressive-looking creation.

The successful test flight has quickly been used to pump up national pride and to position the UK as a wonderful source of science and technology.

The craft is, however, controversial as a global movement has sprung up to debate the ethics of partially-autonomous machines taking human morality out of war.

While BAE and the Ministry of Defence say the flight was a success, details of the flight's – or maybe flights' ? - duration have not been released. Nor have statistics on the craft's performance been made available, so while the tests have been declared a success we're in the dark as to whether Taranis met its design goals. ®