Taranis: New drone, same old protesters!

Yesterday, as BAE systems unveiled Taranis, their new unmanned combat drone technical demonstrator at their factory in Warton, near Preston we held a small protest vigil at the front gates.  According to Defence Minister Gerald Howarth speaking at the event, the combat drone “reflects the best of our nation’s advanced design and technology skills.” 

There was some grumbling amongst those present that details were scant and  and Taranis could only viewed at some distance. Indeed the drone, which was supposed to be flying this year, is already a year late.   At a cost of £143 million the demonstrator, as the Daily Mail puts it, “spearheads BAE’s drive to convince the Ministry of Defence to invest in the next generation of unmanned aircraft.”

Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, is different from the UK’s current drones as it is designed not to be flown remotely from the ground via satellite, as current unmanned drones are, but rather programmed pre-flight  to carry out its mission, whether  intelligence, surveillance or armed strike.   To make the aircraft ‘more stealthy’ i.e. invisisible to radar, the drone’s bombs and missiles are carried internally.

The company and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are at pains to point our that the ‘robotic drone’ will absolutely always be in human control.   The military are concerned that the public have the wrong attitude to drones and are planning to go to considerable length to re-educate us.  Speaking following objections to the allowing of drones to be flown at Salisbury Plain,  Lt Cdr Gerry Corbett said

 “”The public perception is either: they’re spying on us; they’re shooting at us; or they’re not safe.  We are trying to get rid of the phrase UAV. They are aircraft and they are piloted, albeit remotely.” 

Speaking up on behalf of the ‘un-reeducated’ we held a small vigil at the gates calling on BAE to work for peace and not war.  Response from the hundreds of workers we saw was mostly friendly with our banner,  ‘The only good drone is a vuvuzela – Stop Taranis’ raising smiles.

4 thoughts on “Taranis: New drone, same old protesters!

  • I have to say I agree- the mentality accompanying warmongering is juvenile, acquisitive and tenuously justifiable at best. Consider that we could be sending UAVs out across space to Mars or Venus or Titan to map the terrain (on the subect of w, or have them loitering over the Antarctic monitoring ozone levels, ice melt etc., have them flying around doing the job of weather balloons controllably- there are an enormous number of scientific uses, none of which involve killing or threatening to kill people so we can steal their mineral resources. Western society really should grow up at some point soon, before we end up REALLY annoying the billions of other people we have to share the planet with, most of whom had developed the calculus used to design and build these machines whilst we were still living in caves.

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