Worth noting that this project has been developed at the same time as a similar French project.
A series of bi national agreements aim to use both these prototypes as the basis of an operational system for both nations, arriving around the middle of the next decade onwards.
Very sensible, it would be absurd for two nations that have very similar requirements, strategic concerns, budgets, economies, to develop two almost identical operational advanced drones.
By the time an operational vehicle emerges, F-35 deliveries will likely be completed.
So it will be a supplement more than a direct replacement, though after 2030 it could replace some Typhoons.
BAE built and flew a system rather like the Predator (in RAF service since 2007), some years ago.
It wasn't intended as an operational system, rather a stepping stone to the Taranis.
While I agree that ground forces cuts might go too far, post Afghanistan a reduction was inevitable.
Treasury led of course but that proposed numbers are also seen as near to the minimum to allow a steady stream of potential transfers to Special Forces units at their current level.
has been an area of expansion in recent years, partly due to increasing the 'semi SF
' and support arms for them, to enable the core units to concentrate more on their core capabilities. Such as converting one of the three Parachute Regiment battalions into a more focussed 'Pathfinder' unit).
Worth noting though that traditionally the British Army has been small in relation to the population. Even at the height of 'Pax Britannia' in the late 19th/early 20the centuries.
How all that area of the world was red on the map seems so hard to understand now, but it was.
WW1 changed that, first a call to arms led to the biggest volunteer army ever raised, anywhere.
With the slaughter of that conflict, from 1916 conscription came in. A new experience to the British.
It also came in at the start of WW2, when that ended, just two years after the end, it came in again, such was a massive commitments, not just Imperial, which started to decline some with Indian independence in 1947, also the garrison of occupied Germany and other commitments aimed at stemming Communism.
Greece, then the economy busting Korean war re-arming.
When conscription ended at the end of the 50's/early 60's, in part due to the nuclear deterrent going operational, the army did shrink.
But compared to the historical norm, it stayed large, mainly due to keeping 55,000 heavily mechanised troops in West Germany.
What is happening now is probably where the army would have evolved to had there not been that Cold War commitment, after the final time conscription ended 55 years ago.