Development on the EADS Barracuda fully-autonomous, medium-altitude, long-range UAV began in 2003, and is backed by both Germany and Spain. Despite crashing during a 2006 test flight, which grounded the project for nearly two years, the Barracuda has since successfully completed more than a dozen test flights.
Barracuda is built from a mix of off the shelf components and custom hardware systems. Its entire fuselage — save for a pair of reinforcing wing spars — is composed of the same carbon fibre composite that covers the Eurofighter Typhoon. What’s more, the 8m long, 2.7-tonne demonstrator does almost entirely away with hydraulics — aside from the landing gear, the UAV operates entirely on electronic actuators. And while it isn’t as quick as the Taranis, the Barracuda reportedly packs a 14kN Pratt & Whitney jet turbine capable of achieving mach .85 with a 6000 m service ceiling and an estimated 200km operational radius.
For the foreseeable future, the Barracuda will remain a developmental test bed for future Cassian UAV technologies with hopes of eventually developing a system that can operate in unsegregated airspace alongside manned and civilian aircraft. And with both the nEUROn and Taranis gunning for deployment by the end of the decade, the skies over Europe are going to get crowded.