The UK Ministry of Defence has unveiled a next-generation prototype unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), called Taranis, at BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire.

The Taranis has been specifically designed to test the possibility of developing the first ever autonomous, stealth UCAV that can accurately intercept long-range targets fired from another continent.

BAE Systems Programmes and Support business group managing director Nigel Whitehead said Taranis was developed in 3.5 years.

The stealth UCAV, which will be controlled by ground forces, has been developed by an informal industry team, including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, QinetiQ and GE Aviation in cooperation with the UK MoD.

Taranis is scheduled to undergo flight tests in 2011.