LONDON — A third and possibly final series of flight tests planned for Britain's Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle demonstrator is planned for later this year, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Martin Taylor, the managing director at BAE's Military Aircraft business, said the company is in talks with the MoD about further flight test trials.
The British and French governments signed a £120 million (US $183.4 million) FCAS study last year to investigate the feasibility of jointly building an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). Each nation additionally injected a further £40 million into national UCAV technology programs.
Neither the government nor BAE would comment on the content of the next phase of flight tests.
The MoD spokesman said culmination of the third phase of flights would see spending on the Taranis program rise to "£202.3 million, about a third of which has been contributed by British industry."
Britain launched the Taranis program with the signing of a jointly funded £124 million deal with industry to develop a technical demonstrator based on earlier programs led by BAE such as Nightjar and Raven.
BAE, GE Aviation, QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce and Selex are among the companies behind development of the 8-ton vehicle, which is similar in size to the Hawk trainer jet.
"We have to make sure the program we propose is realistic, credible and capable of surviving any strategic defense and security review [SDSR] or French equivalent. We are working not only on a capability but also a way of bringing it to life, which is credible and practical," Taylor said.
BAE, Dassault Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Safran, Selex and Thales are involved in the two-year Anglo-French study.
Defense executives here expect the SDSR now being conducted by the British government to considers its options on unmanned vehicles, including the Anglo-French combat vehicle.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.